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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

Based on a True Story, by Hesh Kestin

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Based on a True Story, by Hesh Kestin


Based on a True Story, by Hesh Kestin


Publication Date: September 1, 2008
Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN: 978-0-979312-35-9
Trim: 8.3 x 5.4


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Set on the eve of WWII in an erotically charged Africa, an intensely un-Gauguinesque Polynesia and a Hollywood of explosive racial and gender identities, the three novellas that make up Based on a True Story reveal the roots of contemporary life in a world at war with itself. As exotically romantic as Joseph Conrad, comic as Philip Roth, magical as Steve Stern and Bernard Malamud and as intricately compelling as any thriller, Hesh Kestin’s tales reveal the shameless private lives of women and men caught in the violent crossfire between sensuality and power, love and fear, conscience and deliriously uncontrolled erotic abandon.


"A !@#!%&#! masterpiece—war, passion, greed, fear, nobility and love’s perversion in the face of unfathomable reality. I actually did cry at the end!” —Ruthie Blum, The Jerusalem Post

"Magisterial. The language alone is sigh-inducing, like Scott Fitzgerald on crystal meth telling tales to Joseph Conrad, who would have wanted to steal the sensually exotic plots. Pure joy.” —Craig Karpel, Pajamas Media 

"Hesh Kestin's novellas offer pleasures all too rare in contemporary American fiction: the pleasures of wide-ranging cosmopolitanism and historical sophistication." —Ron Rosenbaum, author ofExplaining Hitler and The Shakespeare Wars

"Hesh Kestin has a deep understanding of human culture and an uncanny ability to people his terrains with mesmerizing prophets. If a well-lived life is a person's best defense against a fear of death, then in this absorbing book Kestin arms his characters and his readers elegantly for the battle.” —Marc Siegel, MD, author of False Alarm: the Truth About the Epidemic of Fear


"Based on a True Story is witty and funny. It is also sad, wise and wistful. Parts of it are heartbreaking. The language is masterful. The knowledge it took to write these three novellas is clearly evident on every page—not just Kestin’s knowledge of the human heart, but also his large grasp of world geography, his understanding of the history of the various locations he uses to ground the stories, and his notable use of the languages spoken by various characters, from the natives of Atu-Hiva to the people of Mombasa to the Latin spouting Fritz von Blum in Hollywood. It’s an opulent read created by what is plainly a simmering talent, a bountiful mind." —Perigree

"Kestin’s clear knack for clever banter shines throughout the piece. What could have been stock characters in a classically clichéd Hollywood plot are rendered genuine, fleshed-out individuals through Kestin’s skill with language. These characters have gumption, they have heart, they have panache. And they’re not afraid to talk back. Another bonus: “Based on a True Story” is frequently hilarious. This gem in Kestin’s collection makes Based on a True Story worth checking out." NewPages

"These three superb novellas by a former foreign correspondent are some of the best short fiction this reviewer has seen in years." —Kansas City Star