How to Leave a Country

A novel by Cris Mazza

January 1, 1992 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 180 pages • 978-0-918273-96-3

In this luminous first novel, critically acclaimed short story writer Cris Mazza deftly carves characters and paints startling situations with clarity, dark humor and an oddly detached eroticism.

Phelan, a sculptor, and Tara, the painter he lives with, are engaged in a strange relationship. She remembers events from his life, but not her own. He remembers the inspirations for her paintings, but she cannot remember painting them. As Tara recalls significant episodes from Phelan’s life—childhood obsessions, adolescent seductions and adult disappointments—she reveals the nature of their relationship, its animalistic impulses and creative energies, confronting questions about the nature of love, memory and reality.

About the Author

Cris Mazza is the author of How to Leave a Country, Your Name Here: ___, Exposed, Dog People, and Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? She was also co-editor of Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction (1995), and Chick-Lit 2 (No Chick Vics) (1996). Mazza’s fiction has been reviewed numerous times in the New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, Ms. Magazine, Chicago Tribune Books, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Voice Literary Supplement, and many other book review publications.

A native of Southern California, Cris Mazza grew up in San Diego County. She is a graduate of San Diego State University and Brooklyn College. Mazza has taught fiction writing at UC San Diego, and was Writer in Residence at Austin Peay State University and at Allegheny College. Since 1993 Mazza has lived outside Chicago. She is a professor in and director of the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In spring 2000 Mazza was the Chairholder in Creative Writing in the MFA program at the University of Alabama, and was an NEA grant recipient in 2000–2001.


“Daringly innovative. . . . Mazza’s work is not for the faint-hearted, but her energy, humor, and respect for her material deliver. She has a career of great promise.” Columbus Dispatch

“Mazza is a subversive, anarchistic writer. . . . Hardly forgettable.” Wall Street Journal