Fire Year, Jason K. Friedman
Lambda Literary Award Finalist for General Gay Fiction
Named one of "The big indie books of Fall 2013" by Publishers Weekly
Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction winner
In his humorous and tender debut collection, Jason K. Friedman investigates art, sexuality, love, and religion in seven unconventional and engrossing short stories. A gay man attends his high school reunion in Savannah, where he's pursued by the now-married former football star. An awkward teenager grapples with notions of God and girls at his bar mitzvah. A curator's assistant struggles to understand a 500-year-old Italian painter’s body of work, until his boyfriend (whom he’s previously written off as frivolous), makes an accidental discovery that challenges decades of art criticism. Friedman's characters stumble through communities to which they belong--a synagogue, a hometown, a family--yet somehow remain outsiders. The author’s intimate, sinuous prose creates a vivid and moving picture of the trials religious, cultural, and sexual minorities experience in Georgia and the Deep South.
Jason K. Friedman was born in Savannah, GA, earned a BA from Yale and an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies including Best American Gay Fiction and the cultural-studies reader Goth: Undead Subculture. He has published two children’s books, including the thriller Phantom Trucker. He was the runner-up in the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in the Novel, and he won the Karma Foundation-Moment Magazine Short Fiction Prize for “Blue,” the first story in Fire Year. Jason works as a technical writer in San Francisco, where he lives with his husband, filmmaker Jeffrey Friedman, and their dog, Lefty.
Praise for Fire Year:
“These seven funny, fearless outsiders’ tales set in Savannah and Atlanta--some depicting bygone orthodox Jewish communities, others the rife-with-irony “New South”--gravitate toward taboo. One preoccupation of Friedman’s Mary McCarthy Prize-winning debut collection is the breakdown of traditional mores, but its standouts specifically tackle pent-up sexual desire. . . . Strengthened by the diversity in subject matter, the through-line of sexual coming-of-age and temptation gives this volume a satisfying coherence.”
—Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Loneliness predictably attends these people on the fringes, yet sometimes Mr. Friedman craftily reverses the polarity of acceptance and rejection. . . There can also be loneliness in inclusion, Mr. Friedman suggests, when it resembles exploitation.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“The seven stories in Jason K. Friedman’s rich, funny and finally very moving debut all feature characters who feel like transplants in a strange land, even though often enough it’s a land to which they were born.”
“Friedman mines two very distinct veins of American fiction: that of the American Jewish experience, and that of the American South, particularly Georgia. And though those might seem incompatible, Friedman blends them in engaging ways... when Friedman melds the picturesque and the political, as in “There’s Hope for All of Us,” his work shines...The ways in which homosexuality, art, commerce and race intersect in this story adds a lush texture to the narrative and suggest the ways in which art—and, by extension, fiction—can and should change one’s perception of the world.”
"Candid, cunning, brave, and wickedly funny—Jason K. Friedman's Fire Year will make you remember the first time you read Philip Roth. Love, lust, religious tradition, the new South, the transcendent promise of faith, the liberating hope of sexual awakening—he twists all of them together here in stories as true to our goofy joys as to our deepest intuitions."