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Janet Peery Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The River Beyond the World (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Alligator Dance (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
What the Thunder Said (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon

Janet Peery is an American author best known for writing novels and short stories that have gone to become very popular. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Peery took up writing in her forties, which is quite late. Prior to becoming a professional author, she worked as an insurance physical technician, a hospital respiratory physician, a speech therapist, a swimming teacher and lifeguard, worker at a fast food outlet, and restaurant waiter. Despite entering the writing world relatively late in her life, she has received a wide variety of awards and recognition over the years. Her work has been published in Southwest Review, StoryQuarterly, Blackbird, Kansas Quarterly, Chattahoochee Review, 64 Magazine, Quarterly West, and Shenandoah among many others. She has won awards Best American Short Stories, StoryQuarterly’s Fiction Prize, Washington and Lee University’s Jeanne Charpiot Goodheart Prize, Kansas’s Quarterly’s Seaton Award. Her novel “The River Beyond the World” made the shortlist for the 1996 National Book Award. She also won the Women Writing the West for Contemporary Fiction, WILLA Award in 2008, and the 2008 Literary Award for Fiction by the Library of Virginia.

She is a teacher at Virginia’s Old Dominion University in Norfolk, where she won the State Council Outstanding Faculty Award and was made honorific University Professor. She has been a visiting speaker at many American universities and colleges such as Sweet Briar College, The Program for Writers at Wilson MFA, and Antioch University, LA. She has given presentations at Sewanee Writers Conference, the New Mexico Gen Workshop among other prestigious writing conferences. She has worked as Resident Writer for Montana’s Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Rosebud Reservation In Mission, and the American Voice Project for the National Book Foundation. She has a MFA in Creative Writing attained from Wichita State, and a BA in Audiology and Speech Pathology from the same institution.

Janet Peery has always had a dream of becoming a renowned author ever since she was a girl that loved to tell and create stories. As a child, she would dream of lying on her bed and with a blank book in front of her. Words would appear on the page to form a deliriously beautiful story as it formed in her mind. As she grew older, she wrote poems and even drafted four novels before she turned thirteen. As an expert in rewriting short stories into novels, she vividly remembers writing “Cheaper by the Dozen”, which she read multiple times before she turned it into a bestselling title. While she obviously loved writing, she did not undertake a degree in writing when she went to college, thanks to the strong attraction to the hippie culture. She would study psychology and major in Romance Languages before trying out linguistics, which she absolutely loved. She had started working on some of her novels before she started her MFA and by 1993, she had published her first title “Alligator Dance”.

Janet Peery writes fiction that may at best be described as an elegant banquet, exploring renewal, flight, and the transformation of the American West with a light touch that is delicious, varied, and highly satisfying. She knows how to choose just the right image to imbue the landscape and flesh with psychological weight and dense spirituality. Her scenes are hospitable and gracious while still being delightfully surprising and full of literary richness without going into the obscure. Peery’s novels have the concrete and hard detail that is borne of a confident and deft hand. Nonetheless, the narratives always portray the ruthlessness and tenderness inherent in the human condition and heart. The page-turners typically start out with a delightful flush of language that is full of originality and grace that makes the story engaging right from the start. The narrative of the novels is that every human being’s life has a clear destiny, and that people may sometimes spend most of their lives in search of it. For the most part the novels in the series deal with the themes of transformation, redemption, deception, sexual awakening, forgiveness, and the demonstrations that people will often find either solace, or a better solution to age-old problems.

“The Exact Nature of Our Wrong” is the first novel by Janet Peery that went on to make the shortlist for the National Book Award for fiction. It is an intimate, dramatic, and warm story of a family united and divided by one of the unlikeliest of members. The story is set in Amicus, Kansas, a blue-collar town where the Campbell family has gathered or a summer birthday dinner for their ailing patriarch, Abel Campbell, who is also the town’s justice. Hattie the still hale mother is in charge of preparing the food. Things go wrong when Billy one of the youngest of the children who has made a name for himself with numerous misdemeanors, grand ideas, and a history of addiction passes out face first into his food. Concerned with the direction Billy is taking the family plans an intervention. Billy’s misadventures have for long been keep concealed by his mother Hattie, which has had the effect of enabling his bad behavior and shielding him from Abel’s disappointment. Meanwhile, the children are in a cutthroat competition for their parents’ affection and adoration. Clairebell, Gideon, Jesse, and Doro also have failures, but will not forgive Billy, who is hell-bent on disappointing their parents. Peery writes in a family with new and old wounds, at its worst and at its best, and its feuds and fractures in a sure handed and humorous tale of unbreakable family bonds.

“The River Beyond the World: A Novel” is the award-winning second novel by Janet Peery, set in the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges. The lead character is Luisa Cantu, a woman who gets impregnated after engaging in an ancient ritual. With no other means of taking care of her child, she leaves Mexico to go work for Mrs. Eddie Hatch, a woman resident in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Mrs. Hatch is an opinionated and strong willed woman with a complicated relationship with her employees. Her relationship with Luisa is serious, pragmatic, mystical, and even comic, even as it reveals the complex nature of sacrifice, love, and forgiveness in human relationships

Book Series In Order » Authors » Janet Peery

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