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Maurice Carlos Ruffin has an uncanny ability to reveal the hidden corners of a place we thought we knew. These perspectival, character-driven stories center on the margins and are deeply rooted in New Orleanian culture in The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You.
In "Beg Borrow Steal," a boy relishes time spent helping his father find work after coming home from prison; in "Ghetto University," a couple struggling financially turns to crime after hitting rock bottom; in "Before I Let Go," a woman who's been in NOLA for generations fights to keep her home; in "Fast Hands, Fast Feet," an army vet and a runaway teen find companionship while sleeping under a bridge; in "Mercury Forges," a flash fiction piece among several in the collection, a group of men hurriedly make their way to an elderly gentleman's home, trying to reach him before the water from Hurricane Katrina does; and in the title story, a young man works the street corners of the French Quarter, trying to achieve a freedom not meant for him.
These stories are intimate invitations to hear, witness, and imagine lives at once regional but largely universal, and undeniably New Orleanian, written by a lifelong resident of New Orleans and one of our finest new writers.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin is the author of We Cast a Shadow, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Open Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and International Dublin Literary Award. A recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction, he has been published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, the Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. A native of New Orleans, he is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance.
Ruffin will be in conversation with Deesha Philyaw, the author of the debut short story collection The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia University Press, 2020), which won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and a 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; the collection was also a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is being developed for television by Tessa Thompson for HBO Max. She is also the author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce, written in collaboration with her ex-husband.