Thrown, Kerry Howley

HowleyRGB (1).jpg
HowleyRGB (1).jpg

Thrown, Kerry Howley


In this darkly funny work of literary nonfiction, a bookish young woman insinuates herself into the lives of two cage fightersone a young prodigy, the other an aging journeyman. Acclaimed essayist Kerry Howley follows these men for three years through the bloody world of mixed martial arts as they starve themselves, break bones, fail their families and form new ones in the quest to rise from remote Midwestern fairgrounds to packed Vegas arenas. With penetrating intelligence and wry humor, Howley exposes the profundities and absurdities of this American subculture.  

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Kerry Howley's work has appeared in Harper's, The Paris ReviewThe New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and frequently in Bookforum. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was an Arts Fellow and the Provost's Visiting Writer in Nonfiction.

Praise for Thrown:

“The most bizarre and fascinating book I’ve read this year. . . . The precision of Howley’s prose reminds me of Joan Didion or David Foster Wallace: she’s so involved with the fight, it’s as if she were trying to eat it with words. Howley writes like someone who’s been flayed, all nerve endings exposed, no barriers between her and the world around her.”
Time magazine

"This sui generis debut threatens to remap the entire genre of nonfiction. . . . Howley’s brilliant prose is as dexterous and doughty as the fighters she trails, torquing into philosophy, parody, and sweat-soaked poetry."
Publishers Weekly, starred boxed review

“A truly gripping account of the insular world of MMA—the history, the personalities, the injuries, the money, the white-hot fighters and the foundering ones. . . . Howley stepped into the cage and stepped out of it with something new and stunning."

"Thrown is Kerry Howley's masterful debut. A work of rigorous nonfiction that's sure to be branded experimental, but that's as involving and page-turning as any book I've read in a while."
Gary Shteyngart

"Who can explain what draws a young brilliant writer—and a woman no less—to be mesmerized by the sight of a young man being pummeled in the ring? But out of this passion—maybe obsession—comes a great American story about overlooked heroes, the nature of violence, hope, love and nearly everything else that matters."
—Hanna Rosin, author of The End of Men

“Kerry Howley gives us a front row seat to the dark, brutal inner world of cage fighters. About the yearning dream for fame, the way violence becomes both poetry and obsession, and the way life can lift you up or crush you, this isn't just a masterpiece debut, it's an electrifying classic.”
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“Out of the dank basements and glitzy arenas of a brutal sport, Kerry Howley has created a story that is virtuous, rapturous, and utterly consequential. In language that’s as daring as it is astute, she tells the story of two young guys from the middle of America, an overachiever and an underachiever, whom the world, it turns out, has equally little use for. It’s a story we’ve read about a thousand times, and one we’ve seen nothing else like. This is a gloriously heartbreaking debut.”
—John D'Agata, author of About a Mountain and The Lifespan of a Fact

“Lyrical and brutal in its subject matter, the poetic voice within offers humor, heart, and grace from the first page and kept me in awe until the end. This is a powerful book reminiscent of Hemingway’s early work.”
—Frank Bill, author of Crimes in Southern Indiana and Donnybrook