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“We love Mesha Maren’s Sugar Run, a gritty noir novel like you’ve never read before.” Entertainment Weekly

"Maren is masterly . . . clever . . .  brilliant." Charles Frazier, The New York Times Book Review

"Mesha Maren writes like a force of nature." Lauren Groff

One of the most anticipated books of the new year, Sugar Run, has arrived! And the excitement for Mesha Maren's debut novel just keeps building. BuzzFeed, Entertainment Weekly, Book Riot, and Southern Living all tabbed this book as a must-read in 2019. It's an Amazon Featured Debut and an IndieNext Pick for January.

And in this coming Sunday's issue of the New York Times Book Review, Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier writes, “The literary lineages here are hard-boiled fiction and film noir, but on every page of her debut novel, Mesha Maren creates bold new takes on those venerable genres."

This is the book everyone's talking about right now. Get to know the author who wrote it.

Listen to Mesha's interview with NPR Weekend Edition's Scott Simon>>.
About the book

Set within the charged insularity of rural West Virginia, Sugar Run is a searing story about making a run for another life. Lost, aimless, and newly free after eighteen years in prison, Jodi McCarty meets and falls in love with Miranda, a troubled young mother. Together, they struggle for a fresh start. But is that even possible in a town that refuses to change?

Read more>>
From Mesha Maren: Why I Wrote the Book

People talk about Appalachia as if it were only a place to leave behind. But as my main character, Jodi McCarty, began to take shape in my mind, I found myself exploring this question of returning. What does it look like to come home again to a hard but well-loved place?

When Jodi is unexpectedly released from prison after eighteen years, her childhood home in southern West Virginia is nothing more than a distant memory. She never truly expected to see those mountains again, and while she is delighted to return, she must also confront the difficulty of trying to build a new life in such an insular, rural place. She struggles to bridge the gap between dreams and reality.

Read Mesha's whole essay>>

What I'll Never Part With

My signed copy of Denis Johnson's Angels.

My first editions of Claire Falkenberg artist books.

An encouraging note that author Tom Spanbauer gave me years ago when I was attending his writing workshop.

What Has My Attention

Humanitarian Respite Center and Border Angels are two great organizations that are providing relief for members of the migrant caravan.

Ear Hustle and Serial are two podcasts about the justice system that I'm currently fixated on.

The activist art that the organization Queer Appalachia and acclaimed photographer Nan Goldin are using to fight back against Purdue Pharma and their involvement in the opioid epidemic, especially in Appalachia.

What I'm Recommending

Albums in Heavy Rotation

Stronger Lady by Hot Tears

Belly by Erica Freas

Home for Orphans by Reigning Sound


The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan. Check out my review of this book on The Millions.

Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working-Class South by M. Randal O'Wain. I'm super excited about this essay collection that's coming out in 2019. I read an advance copy and it is amazing.

Suspicious River by Laura Kasischke. This was an early inspiration for mixed past/present tense form that I use in Sugar Run.

Our mailing address is:
Algonquin Books
P.O. Box 2225
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

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Algonquin Books · P.O. Box 2225 · Chapel Hill, NC 27515 · USA