Book Notification

Brad Kessler Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Picture Books

Brer Rabbit and Boss Lion (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Firebird (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tom Thumb (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Collections

The Woodcutter's Christmas (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Deep North (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Brad Kessler
Brad Kessler was born February 15, 1963 and is a prize winning novelist and non fiction writer whose work has been translated into several languages. It’s appeared in BOMB, The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, The Nation, as well as other places.

“Birds in Fall” won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2007. The novel also earned him a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Whiting Writer’s Award.

He went to Wesleyan University where he studied with Annie Dillard, a writer. During his early career, he worked as an editor and magazine journalist at Interview. He also wrote scripts for Rabbit Ears Production which were recorded by Ben Kingsley, Danny Glover, Denzel Washington, Susan Sarandon, and John Cleese.

His third novel, “North”, took him ten years to write. He stayed for stretches staying at monasteries and working pretty closely with the Somali community in Burlington, Vermont, as well as the Vermont Office of the United States Committee on Refugees and Immigrants in Colchester, Vermont, to which he donated the proceeds of the book.

Brad’s married to Dona Ann McAdams, the photographer-activist. They’ve collaborated on photography-text books. Their book, “The Garden of Eden”, won the 2002 Lang-Taylor Prize from Duke University’s The Center for Documentary Studies.

In 1998, they moved to Sandgate, Vermont where they eventually raised dairy goats and became licensed cheesemakers and farmers. Their transition from work on paper to works on the land, and the blending of both, agriculture and culture, is the mission of their Northern Spy Farm.

“Lick Creek” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2001. Set in the isolated mining country of West Virginia during the late 20s, “Lick Creek” is a compelling tale about Emily Jenkins, a fiery young lady, and what happens when progress (and tragedy) comes to her family farm.

After the coal mine deaths of Emily’s brother, dad, and the first man she ever loved, she struggles to support herself and her mom. When construction starts on the power lines, she blames the intruders for everything that’s gone wrong, and for her mom’s increasing withdrawal from life and for the lives already lost.

Then, this electrical worker gets struck by lightning. Brought to their farmhouse unconscious and badly hurt, Joseph gets taken in by Emily’s mom, and Emily’s seduced by the mystery of his past, his own mom’s deportations, his immigration from Russia, and the world of immigrants forced to flee from persecution in their homelands.

Moving from romance into high drama, Brad illuminates the role of electricity in the transformation of rural living and the electricity between two vastly different people whose passions and worlds collide.

Fans of the novel enjoyed how Brad Kessler writes. There is this quiet knowingness in his words, even while he writes about something traumatic. And he’s able to weave in small pieces of esoterica and arcana into his narratives without it seeming like he’s trying too hard or showing off.

“Birds in Fall” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2006. One fall night, this innkeeper on a remote island located in Nova Scotia watches this airplane plummet into the sea. While the search for survivors envelops the entire island, the mourning families each gather at the inn, waiting for news about those they’ve lost. Here among the strangers, they form this unusual community, struggling for consolation and comfort.

A Bulgarian man plays piano in the dark, sending out the music to his lost wife. A Taiwanese couple sets fruit out for their daughter’s ghost. An Iranian exile, mourning his niece’s death, recites Persian stories which carry the wisdom of centuries. Two Dutch teens rage against the death of their parents. At this striking novel’s core is Ana Gathreaux, who’s an ornithologist that specializes in bird migration, and whose husband perished on this flight.

What follows is the story about how these families unite and disperse in this tragedy’s wake, and how their interweaving lives ultimately are transformed. Brad’s knowledge of the natural world, myth, and music enrich every single page.

Brad delivers a powerful yet subtle tale about grief and is a beautifully written novel, while he floats from one character to another just like the birds that are so significant to this novel’s main point. This is an unsentimental and original way of dealing with the subject of grief and loss.

“North” is the third stand alone novel and was released in 2021. A powerfully moving story about the intertwined lives of a Somali refugee, a Vermont monk, and an Afghan war vet.

Brother Christopher (a cloistered monk at Blue Mountain Monastery in Vermont), while a late spring blizzard is brewing, rushes to tend to his Northern Spy and Ida Red apple trees in advance of this unseasonal snowstorm. The storm lands Sahro Abdi Muse, a young Somali refugee, at the monastery, he’s pulled back into the world while his life intersects with Sahro’s and that of an Afghan war vet in revealing and surprising ways.

This traces Sahro’s epic journey, from her home in Somalia to South America, along the migrant route through Central America and Mexico, up to New York City, and finally, her dangerous effort to keep going north to safety in Canada. It also compelling traces the inner journeys of Brother Christopher, questioning his future in a world where the monastery way of life is waning, and about veteran Teddy Fletcher, looking for a way to make peace with his past.

Written with Brad’s beautiful, sharp, and observant prose, and grounded in his own corner of Vermont, where there’s a Carthusian monastery, a vibrant community of Somali asylum seekers, and this hole left behind after a disproportionate amount of Vermont soldiers got killed in Afghanistan. This novel gives a voice to these invisible communities, delivering a tale of human connection during a time of displacement.

Readers found this novel to be memorable, powerful, and tender. Brad has an unusual empathy for stories. While deliberate and original in his approach, he leans into the heart of difficulty and allows the sheer human dignity of his characters, no matter the duress they’re under.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Brad Kessler

Leave a Reply