Titles 1998-2018

You Should Pity Us Instead, Amy Gustine


Finalist, 2017 Ohioana Book Award

Most Anticipated Books of 2016, The Millions

Most Exciting New Books of 2016, Buzzfeed

2016 Fiction Highlights, For Books' Sake

Your 2016 Pop Culture Cheat Sheet, Refinery29

Pick of the Week February 8, 2016, Publishers Weekly

18 of February 2016's Best Books to Light Up Your Winter, Bustle

You Should Pity Us Instead explores some of our toughest dilemmas: the cost of Middle East strife at its most intimate level, the likelihood of God considered in day to day terms, the moral stakes of family obligations, and the inescapable fact of mortality. Amy Gustine exhibits an extraordinary generosity toward her characters, instilling them with a thriving, vivid presence.

For a classroom-ready reader's guide written by the author herself follow this link, and explore more titles with reader's guides in Sarabande in Education

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Additional Info

Amy Gustine’s short fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Black Warrior Review, The Massachusetts Review, and many others. She lives in Ohio. 

Praise for You Should Pity Us Instead:

“In this dazzling debut collection, Gustine shows tremendous range, empathy, and spark. . . . Gustine’s language is uniformly remarkable for its clarity and forthrightness.”
Publishers Weekly, starred boxed review

“Gustine’s debut collection examines the compelling lives and struggles of people we might think of as ordinary and the pain that can come from simply trying to make it through life. . . . The emphasis is largely on emotion and situation rather than drama, but this doesn’t detract from their power. In fact, the intensity of people we might pass on the street every day . . . makes this collection all the more powerful. . . . Gustine’s stories give the impression that in every life there is a story worth telling, of triumph and of pain, if only we take the time to look.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review  

"[An] ambitious collection of impressive breadth and depth...written masterfully." 
Kenyon Review

“Gustine packs her short stories tightly, pitches them high and far, and they detonate on target, literary grenades of resounding impact. . . . Gustine’s tales are bursting with startling insights, stabbing dialogue, ambushing metaphors, and stunning moments of dissonance. Her first collection aligns her with such short story stars as Joy Williams, Antonya Nelson, and Bonnie Jo Campbell.”
Booklist, starred review

"Characters stretch their limits in Gustine’s affecting and wide-ranging debut....Gustine knows we are as driven by doubt and fright as by love, and overt tragedy hobbles us less than the fear of losing everything. Her sentences are swift and wise, landing often like a gentle slap in the face.... For all the suffering and dislocation experienced by her characters, for all the frequent density of her plots, Gustine casts compassionate light on her protagonists’ dark paths, delivering highly choreographed moments of humanity from the absurdly comic to the acutely moving."
The New York Times Book Review

"Incandescent....The entire a disconcerting marvel, rife with undertow and carried out in crystalline clear prose and exquisite construction."
—Library Journal

“Amy Gustine’s enormously enjoyable collection, You Should Pity Us Instead, focuses on families under siege. These 11 stories, each ambitious in scope, drop us into one nerve-racking situation after another. . . . Gustine has a gift for inhabiting a wide range of voices.” 
San Francisco Chronicle

"Amy Gustine’s first collection of stories demonstrates a remarkable range, not only in situation and character, but also in the vast landscapes of human emotion and reaction."
Heavy Feathers Review

“Despite the extraordinary breadth of landscapes and topics in You Should Pity Us Instead, every character comes alive with the emotional depth and empathy of Gustine’s writing.”
Buzzfeed, “The 27 Most Exciting Books Coming in 2016”

“Gustine’s moving short stories explore the complexity of transient and familial relationships and the difficult feelings that result from love and morality.”
For Books’ Sake, “2016 Fiction Highlights” 

“Every so often, a book comes along that truly has the power to make you both laugh and cry— sometimes within a single page. Amy Gustine’s talent for unearthing the heartbreaking beauty within the seemingly mundane comes to life in this gorgeous collection. Each story unravels complexity that lives right below the surface—and compels us, in our own existences, to consider looking a little deeper.”
Refinery29, “Your 2016 Pop Culture Cheat Sheet”

“Gustine is a master at character relationships, showcasing captivating three dimensions to every character she writes. . . . [E]ach one of these stories is remarkable.”
Bustle, “18 Of February 2016’s Best Books To Light Up Your Winter”

“Gustine excels at dramatizing the cunning of the human animal—a creature renowned for its skill at self-sabotage—as well as celebrating the freakish grace that can sometimes strike an ordinary life. You Should Pity Us Instead is a devastating, funny, and astonishingly frank collection.”  
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia 

“The stakes are high in every story, and not one of them ends without a moment both understated and haunting. This is exactly the kind of prose a poet would write, and the kind of poetry out of which the best stories are spun.”
—Laura Kasischke, author of Mind of Winter 

“Intense situations plumbed with candor and a finely focused attentiveness to nuance . . . You Should Pity Us Instead is an authoritative debut.”
—Rosellen Brown, award-winning author of Before and After and Tender Mercies

“Compassionate, subtle, utterly unsentimental, and lit with a rare wisdom. The stories are fearless.”
—Jane McCafferty, winner of the Drue Heinz Prize and author of First You Try Everything

“Amy Gustine’s stories cross impossible borders both physical and moral. Brave, essential, thrilling, each story takes us to those places we’ve never dared visit before.”
—Ben Stroud, winner of the Bakeless Prize and author of the award-winning Byzantium: Stories

“What a set of marvels these stories are . . . profound and moving works of art.”
—Lawrence Coates, author of The Goodbye House

“Searingly honest and deeply moving . . . a beguiling and beautiful debut.”
—Margo Rabb, author of Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak