Monday, July 22, 2024

“The Avian Hourglass” Book Coming This August

This August Dzanc Books is releasing The Avian Hourglass by Lindsey Drager. The book is a surrealist novel that Drager describes as “an ode to birds, an elegy to space and a journey into the most haunted and uncanny corners of the human mind.” 

In an isolated town where the birds have disappeared and the stars are no longer visible a woman aspiring to be a radio astronomer is struggling to raise triplets. After agreeing to be a gestational surrogate for a couple they were killed in a car accident and she is left with the responsibility of raising the children herself. 

In a world where young adults are forced to choose between two worldviews – yes or no – the woman is surrounded by strange characters who wear wings and build nests. As events unfold the woman is haunted by the fable of the Girl in Glass Vessel that warns people away from trying to see the truth of their world. 

The woman begins to find her life and reality slowly slipping through her fingers as she discovers the local legend claiming that the small town is the whole of the universe might be true.

The Avian Hourglass is a reflection of the mental health crises, climate crises, the political world and the reliance that society has on technology. The book asks readers to reframe their understanding of home through a figurative and literal twist at the climax of the story.

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In most of her books, Drager plays with the concept of reality and how, as technology progresses, it becomes harder to tell what is real and what is not.

She says that many of her books evaluate the “distinction between what’s real and what’s artificial.”

Drager described The Avian Hourglass as a pandemic book. She got the idea for the book while looking out the window of her apartment during quarantine and watching the birds. She wants her readers to be able to take a moment to stop and evaluate the nature around them.

The two things that Drager thought about throughout her writing process were failure and home. With failure, she focused on the connections between failures on a global level and smaller personal failures. Home was about the different levels of what home is considered and the kinship and belonging that is associated with the idea of home.

Together these things brought together a story that shows what is considered an unstable home does not mean the home is a failure.

Drager was born and raised in the Northwest Ohio area before moving away to earn her MFA at the University of Illinois and eventually her PhD from the University of Denver. Now she is an assistant English professor at the University of Utah specializing in creative writing and the fiction editor of the Dzanc West Branch. She is also apart of the mentorship program offered by Dzanc.

She has three other published works with Dzanc Books, The Sorrow Paper (2015), The Lost Daughter Collective (2017) and The Archive of Alternative Endings (2019). Drager has also published several short stories in magazines like “Blackbirds” which was published in the Fall 2023 issue of the Colorado Review.

Her books have won the Shirley Jackson Award, the John Gardener Fiction Prize and have been finalists in the Lambda Literary Awards. She is also a recipient of the 2020 NEA fellowship and the winner of the 2022 Bard Fiction Prize.

Drager is known for creating speculative and metaphysical fiction that blends reality and fantasy seamlessly. Her work is perfect for fans of Jesse Ball, Helen Oyeyemi, Yoko Ogawa and Shirley Jackson. 

Dzanc Books is a nonprofit publication company that started in 2006. The goal is to advance great writing and impact communities with activities like creative writing workshops and readings available throughout the country.

The book will be available Aug. 13 in paperback or preorder now on the Dzanc Books website for $17.95.

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