Rutting Season


Stories by Mandeliene Smith

This arresting debut short story collection often finds its protagonists poised between disaster and redemption. It’s not always easy to foresee how the stories in Smith’s collection will end….Yet the unpredictability of the nine stories here, many of which deal with matters of life and death, is only part of their charm. Nuanced and empathetic, at times dangerous, tragic, or redemptive, these stories find their subjects in the midst of pivotal moments in their lives, as they struggle with impulses and actions both animalistically urgent and deeply, hauntingly human. At once powerful and delicate, compassionate and cleareyed, this book is sure to breed interest in a new literary voice.
Kirkus (starred review )

In Smith’s unsettling debut, characters must confront the most basic, animal sides of themselves as they navigate crisis and tragedy, whether it is a husband’s sudden death, workplace tension, or a police face-off. At their best, Smith’s characters skate the razor-thin line of brutality in a way that’s both chilling and compelling….this collection proves Smith is an uncommonly talented writer with a particularly sharp eye for the serrated edge of human nature.
Publishers Weekly (full review)

Smith’s wrenching first collection features characters encountering indelible, complex shifts in their lives and relationships… Characters have little choice but to confront their difficulties and ghosts head on, and Smith’s nine tales sharply convey their internalizations as well as the glimpses of acceptance they so desperately seek.
—Booklist (full review)

Smith’s debut collection . . . offers nine stories of upended lives in New England, each hauntingly relatable and pleasingly unpredictable.

I will follow Mandeliene Smith wherever her wise, tragicomic vision leads me. These stories about parents, children, and secrets of the soul are absolutely fearless. Smith finds mercy within darkness and even a deadpan humor in disaster. Exposing the animal nature of our human selves, Rutting Season will leave you looking anew at the world’s dark, dangerous beauty—even “the red animal of your own heart.
—Daphne Kalotay, author of Sight Reading and Russian Winter

Mandeliene Smith’s gorgeous, evocative debut story collection stunned me with its sharp language and almost painfully vivid insights into the human condition. Rutting Season tackles hard topics—grief, death, poverty, the search for self and shelter—with haunting beauty. Smith is a phenomenal new talent.
—Whitney Scharer, author of The Age of Light

Mandeliene Smith’s stories are empathic, wise, and do not look away from uncomfortable truths, whether they be about black-white race relations, the necessary cruelty of life on earth, or the pervasiveness of loss. This is a beautiful, sensitive, and sophisticated debut.
—Rishi Reddi, author of Karma and Other Stories

Mandeliene Smith’s debut is a collection of haunting and propulsive tales—families, children, mothers, men fighting daily horrors for their lives, for decency, for the glad shock of an unexpected joy. Rutting Season is as urgent as it is irresistible. What beautiful stories these are.
—Martha McPhee, author of Gorgeous Lies and Dear Money

The lyricism and gritty naturalism that inform the haunting, extraordinary stories in Mandeliene Smith’s Rutting Season bring to mind the dark, incisive vision of Joyce Carol Oates where love and cruelty commingle with often crushing force.  Smith is a master of pathos and the casual terror of the everyday.  Her characters are vibrant, flawed, vulnerable, and above all, wholly memorable.
—Christine Sneed, author of The Virginity of Famous Men and Paris, He Said