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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.

Darkansas by Jarret Middleton

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Darkansas by Jarret Middleton

darkansas final art.jpg
darkansas final art.jpg

Darkansas by Jarret Middleton


Publication Date: August 8 2017
Hardcover: 216 pages
ISBN: 978-1-945814-29-7

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Jordan is a country musician living in the shadow of his father, legendary bluegrass musician Walker Bayne. A man who has made a lifetime of poor decisions, Jordan bounces between San Antonio dive bars, accruing women and drinking himself to the brink of disaster.

When he returns home to the Ozarks for his twin brother’s wedding, Jordan uncovers a dark vein in the Bayne family history: going back to the end of the Civil War, every generation of Bayne men have been twins—and one twin has always murdered their father.

As old tensions resurface and Jordan searches for a way to escape his family’s legacy, a mysterious hill dweller and his grotesque partner stalk the brothers’ every move, determined to see the curse through.  Praised by Donald Ray Pollock as “one of the best debuts of the year,” Middleton’s debut establishes him as a novelist in good company with Brian Panowich and Smith Henderson, yet in a category all his own.


Middleton’s tale is irresistibly gothic.” 
Barnes & Noble

Darkansas is a dark, compelling novel of country noir about a family with a secret past and a curse several generations old... a novel that shares DNA not only with the best contemporary Southern Gothic and country noir authors but also with literary giants like William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.”
Criminal Element

“From the get-go, Middleton grabs readers with an eerie dream about a violent death, a portent of things to come in his page-turning debut about a family’s curse...the book is elevated by Middleton’s prose, especially the rough and textured descriptions of the landscapes and environment.”
Publishers Weekly

 "A well-carved story of a family's curse, as brittle and grotesque as any works in the vein of Faulkner or O'Connor. A subversive twist on Southern myths that's surprisingly rich in its execution."
Kirkus Reviews

“Finding the right phrase to describe Jarret Middleton’s new novel isn’t easy. It’s a tale of the tensions within a family; it’s the story of that family’s bloody history; and it’s an account of bizarre and uncanny forces heightening existing conflicts and transforming them into something horrific. Classifying this book isn’t easy, but the tense and gripping sensations that reading it sparks are undeniable.”
Vol 1 Brooklyn

"Old grudges, regrets, jealousy and 150 years of buried secrets.... Bleak, perhaps, but Darkansas also shines with a light of empathy for a family with more than its share of bad luck to go along with its bad genes."
Shelf Awareness

"In an overly charitable book reviewing world in which the word "genius" is thrown around like a hot's refreshing to read an honest-to-goodness good novel. It's a book that deserves many readers, one I suspect will be passed around for many years. ... His creepy, crawly sentences are laden with gothic thicket, and the atmosphere he evokes is mystical. What seems superficially realistic is shaded with a glow of "Mulholland Drive"-style surrealism. In a memorable and skilled novel, Middleton suggests that there are unexplained mysteries out there, and that their presence may play a heavier hand in our daily lives than we'd like to believe."
Arkansas Times

A novel in the Southern Gothic tradition…Darkansas looks like it will live up to its name for sure.” 

“An edgy, modern version of Southern Gothic, with plenty of atmosphere and action.”
Lit Hub

“The devil didn't go down to Georgia, he went to Arkansas, where the Bayne family struggle against Beelzebub's grip on their collective fates. Middleton's debut has it allsex, song, sadness, and a history as dark and twisted as the Ozark hollers that fill these pages. Holy hell, what a book.”
Peter Geye, author of Wintering and The Lighthouse Road

“Gritty, ghostly, poetic, Darkansas is sure to appeal to fans of William Gay and Shirley Jackson. I'd bet a fifth of the top-shelf stuff it will be considered one of the best debuts of the year.”
—Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table and The Devil All The Time

 "A mesmerizing debut [. . .] There is a dark magic in Middleton’s prose that is impossible to resist."
Jonathan Evison, New York Times best-selling author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

“Middleton's lush and lyric writing creates a landscape and atmosphere beautiful and horrific. This is a grand debut that pushes the limits of ‘Southern Gothic’ and delivers a dark and engrossing story of family, love, and fate.”
Kathi Kirby, Powell's Books

"Middleton’s brilliant debut is a vivid, haunting page-turner in the American Gothic tradition."
Garth Stein, New York Times best-selling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

"Darkansas starts as a slow burn, before you know it you can't put it down. A barbed meditation on fear, family, and the monstrousness of fate."
—Brian Evenson, author of Last Days

 "A delicious blend of the gritty reality inherent in dysfunctional family relationships and the magical realism of small towns in the mythic ‘deep south’ [. . .] You can practically hear Ry Cooder's guitar licks playing in the background."
Paul Hanson, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

 "Reminiscent of the works of Larry Brown and Rick Bass; richly drawn, refreshing, and authentic.... An innovative literary voice that I look forward to following for decades to come."
—Nickolas Butler, author of The Hearts of Men   


Jarret Middleton is the author of Darkansas and the novella, An Dantomine Eerly. He was the founding editor of Dark Coast Press and the classics library Pharos Editions, an imprint of Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. His fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Shelf Awareness, The Quarterly Conversation, The Weeklings, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Collagist, SmokeLong Quarterly, and HTMLGIANT, as well as appearing in the print anthologies The Breadline Anthology; Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices; and In Heaven, Everything is Fine: Fiction Inspired by David Lynch. He lives in Seattle, WA with his wife.