The acclaimed author of The Cockfighter continues his deft exploration of the underside of the American experience in this searing new collection of stories. Frank Manley presents a cultural snapshot that is poignant, ironic, and ultimately riveting, as he examines the bleak landscape of racial prejudice and fear that isolates people from one another and lies at the heart of their own loneliness. In “Mister Butterfly” an aging prison guard, imprisoned by blind rage and disappointment, marries Asian mail-order brides and, after disposing of them, complains of being lonely and lost. In “The Housekeeper” a fifty-year-old widow falls in love for the first time with the priest who employs her. In “The Indian Way” a white man criticizes Native Americans for having lost what he calls “the Way,” meaning their traditional culture, only to realize at the end that he has lost the Way himself. Manley’s stories are set in the South as he explores an aspect of the American psyche that spans geographic and economic divisions. Manley’s contemporary characters are prisoners of their own view of the world and their own beliefs and prejudices about those who are different from them.
“One of the best storytellers now writing.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Among Prisoners is an exquisitely crafted book of stories. By turns funny, sad, and poignant, these stories cannot fail to touch the readers’ heart. He ranks among the best of our contemporary storytellers.” —Tim O’Brien
“These characters are imprisoned in their visions shaped by history and the darkness from within. Nobody among contemporary fiction writers can write dialogue better than Frank Manley: these voices are inward, penetrating, moving, vehement, farcical, entirely human. This is a unique collection.” —Ha Jin
“Manley’s Southern-influenced tales have a rough-around-the-edges appeal as portraits of everyday folk imprisoned by their own ignorance and greed.” Publishers Weekly