contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.


5220 Dexter Ann Arbor Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI, 48103
United States

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.

The Lost Country by William Gay

Our Books

The Lost Country by William Gay

The Lost Country_COVER.jpg
The Lost Country_COVER.jpg

The Lost Country by William Gay


Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Hardcover: 368 pages
ISBN: 978-1-945814-52-5

Add To Cart


Billy Edgewater is a harbinger of doom. Estranged from his family, discharged from the Navy, and touched by a rising desperation, he sets out hitchhiking home to East Tennessee, where his father is slowly dying.

On the road, separately, are Sudy and Bradshaw, brother and sister, and a one-armed con man named Roosterfish.  All, in one way or another, have their pasts and futures embroiled with D.L. Harkness, a predator in all the ways there are. Hounded at every turn by scams, vigilantes, grievous loss, and unspeakable violence, Edgewater navigates the long road home, searching for a place that may be nothing but memory.

Hailed as “a seemingly effortless storyteller” by the New York Times Book Review and “a writer of striking talent” by the Chicago Tribune, William Gay, with this long-awaited novel, secures his place alongside Faulkner, O’Connor, and McCarthy as one of the greatest novelists in the Southern Gothic tradition.


“If you fancy a blast of full-on Americana, it's hard to think of anything published recently that blasts in such a brilliantly sustained way--or that makes much of contemporary fiction suddenly seem so bloodless by comparison.”
—The Times

“Gay’s style was fully formed: sinister and lovely, dark and atmospheric, blood-soaked and word-drunk. He fit squarely in the Southern Gothic tradition, but the languid, unrolling richness of his language made the stories and novels that followed feel fresh, a rebirth of a genre prone to pale imitations.”
—Wall Street Journal

“The pleasure that Gay, a self-educated Vietnam veteran, takes from language is frequently a thing of beauty...A Dickensian feel for character makes his stories surge with life while the sharp dialogue is furious, funny and very southern. Comic timing invariably lifts The Lost Country to higher levels....Gay, an instinctive original, had the spark of natural genius.”
—The Irish Times

“A wonder of Southern Gothic storytelling.”
—Southern Living (Best Southern Books of 2018)

“An eerie, stream-of-consciousness drift through storms, death, and mystery in midcentury Tennessee.”
—Garden & Gun

“A haunting and visceral rendering of the American south.”
—The Literary Review

“Gay’s great abilities in character building, richness of language and storytelling are on full display in this posthumous novel. Fans will celebrate its publication, and new readers can begin a journey through all his work here.”
—Charles Frazier, author of Varina

“Gay's midcentury Tennessee is a realm of bad weather and small-town lowlifes, vagrancy laws, and bootleg liquor; every man is a drunk, alternately listless and lustful and violent; every woman is defined by the use she makes (or once made, or will make) of her body. Yet there is humor in this bleakness, and it bubbles up from the same human springs as the cruelty and violence. ... Infidelities, prison breaks, murderous revenge, biblical language, and a deep kinship between the land and its inhabitants—Gay's novel is full-on Southern gothic.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“There is so much to be awed by in Gay’s new novel and it only makes us miss him all the more, though it is a less-than-subtle reminder of how lucky we are to have had him share his talent with us while he was here. William Gay could write a grocery list and make it sing and burn off the pages in equal measure, and The Lost Country is yet another testament to his undeniable virtuosity with the written word.”
—Heavy Feather Review

“William Gay is a flat-out monster. The former protégé of Cormac McCarthy is back from dead,... preoccupied with a twisted, subversive, yet elegiac representation of a South that takes no heed of where it’s been nor where it’s going. Get ready for a ride.”
—Parnassus Books Recommended Reads

“Like so many fans of Gay's, I've been waiting to read this seemingly mythical work, The Lost Country, for quite some time....Gay's elegiac prose sings once again as he breathes life into his characters and mines his patch of soil with the skill of the old masters. The Lost Country is the story of Billy Edgewater and his hard journey through a post World War II South filled with the downtroddenhucksters, racists, drunks, bad or lost men and women, all trying to make it in a harsh rural setting that is unforgiving yet beautiful. It's a helluva good ride and I can't wait to recommend it.”
—Cody Morrison, Square Books

The Lost Country lands like a shimmering gift from the beyond. For those of us who cherish and honor Gay's tremendous talent, his bold method of seeing the waste and wonder we are, this posthumous novel is a reminder of what we miss: the language pitched toward the sublime, his men and women grappling for redemption in a world that has damned them, his understanding of grace in the presence of human badness. When Gay died too soon, we lost much, but The Lost Country gives a piece of him back to us.”
—William Giraldi, author of Hold the Dark

“The novel exposes us to a deliciously dark southern underbelly, one that, when paired with its sparse, lean prose and quiet intensity, becomes incredibly mesmerizing.”
—The Next Best Book Club


Born in Tennessee in 1939, William Gay began writing at fifteen and wrote his first novel at twenty-five, but didn't begin publishing well into his fifties. He worked as a TV salesman, in local factories, did construction, hung sheetrock, and painted houses to support himself. His works include The Long Home, Provinces of Night, I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down, Wittgenstein's Lolita, and Twilight. His work has been adapted for the screen twice, That Evening Sun (2009) and Bloodworth (2010), with an adaptation of The Long Home scheduled for 2016. He died in 2012.