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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.

The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher

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The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher


The Wonder That Was Ours by Alice Hatcher

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Wynston Cleave, a black taxi driver on a small Caribbean island, spent years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of the death of a wealthy white tourist. Finally released, he tries to piece his life together working as a bartender and reading literary classics to the unruly cockroaches infesting his taxi.

On the anniversary of his arrest, Wynston picks up two white Americans just kicked off a cruise ship. The next day, the ship reports a deadly viral outbreak. As the tourist economy collapses, the island succumbs to riots and a devastating spiral of violence, and Wynston’s fate becomes entwined with that of three strangers: his American passengers and a local named Tremor, the focus of a vicious police manhunt.

Narrated by the sharp-witted roaches infesting Wynston’s taxi, The Wonder That Was Ours explores deep racial and class divides through the most unlikely eyes imaginable, taking a unique perspective on prejudice, compassion, and the absurdity of the human experience.


“Who better to tell a revelatory tale of human fallibility than perhaps the most maligned creatures on Earth? Though their story may be tragic, Alice Hatcher’s cockroaches are witty, companionable, and irresistibly charming storytellers. I will be recommending this sumptuous and deeply empathic novel to all my reader friends.”
Michelle Ross, There's So Much They Haven't Told You

“Hatcher's unique narrators offer a bird's-eye view of history, with all the glory and devastation that entails: an ambitious experiment that ends in an achingly compassionate achievement. This book is funny, warm, and piercingly intelligent—and it will probably break your heart.”
Adrienne Celt, Invitation to a Bonfire and The Daughters

“Don't let the omniscient cockroach narrators scare you. Put down the Roach Out! Listen to the bugs. As the passengers on an off-shore cruise ship fall to a pestilential sickness, the island nation of St. Anne and its people suffer a series of cataclysms. The Wonder That Was Ours is both funny and grim, jaunty and horrifying. The cockroaches lead a masterclass on the ravages of colonialism. They preach something of survival, too, and occasionally even hope.”
Daniel A. Hoyt, This Book Is Not For You

“What an unexpected pleasure...a thoughtful, fresh take on empathy, isolation, fear, and the legacies of colonialism. Professor Cleave, Dave, Helen, Tremor, and, yes, the cockroaches will remain in your hearts and your minds for a long time after finishing this book.”
—Chrissy Kolaya, Charmed Particles

“Through chiseled prose, potent imagery, and a cast of narrators who operate as a hat tip to Kafka, Hatcher's comitragic cautionary tale about race and class is impossible to forget.”
—Lindsey Drager, The Lost Daughter Collective


A former academic historian, ALICE HATCHER turned her attention from footnotes to fiction several years ago. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Notre Dame Review, Lascaux Review, Fourth Genre, Contrary, Chautauqua and Gargoyle, among other journals. Her novel The Wonder That Was Ours won Dzanc Books’ 2017 Prize for fiction and will be published in 2018. Hatcher lives in Tucson, AZ. Her work can be found at