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Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro

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When Jamie Quatro’s first book, a story collection, I Want to Show You More, was published in 2013, it was greeted by an avalanche of honors – including being named a New York Times Notable Book - and effusive praise. Just one example will suffice for this as well. David Means wrote: “A brilliant new voice in American fiction has arrived. Bright, sharp, startling, utterly distinctive, passionate, and secretive, Quatro’s stories are missives from deep within the landscape of American womanhood.”  Of course Quatro was exhorted to bring her talents to bear in a novel. The result is Fire Sermon. And the response has been as striking as that of her story collection: “It would be difficult to overstate the wonder I felt while reading this novel. It’s among the most beautiful books I’ve ever read about longing―for beauty, for sex, for God, for a coherent life.”―Garth Greenwell. Fire Sermon is the story of Maggie, a housewife devoted to her husband, her two kids, and to her Christian faith, until her relationship with James, a poet, begins to catch on fire. “Charged with erotic energy and an almost mystical yearning, Jamie Quatro’s debut novel, Fire Sermon (Grove Atlantic), is a tour de force exploration of lust, marriage, longing, and love. … exploring the tensions that play out when heightened sexual desire, intellectual frisson, and having one’s beliefs tested meet the quotidian routines and rewards of work, family, and faith. … Incorporating a mix of narrative styles from epistolary to confessional to flashback, Fire Sermon is a virtuosic portrait of flesh-and-blood sensuality and the mystery of salvation.” –Lisa Shea. “I loved it, and devoured it in one sitting. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful novel. The simplicity of the story sits in perfect counterpoint to the complex narrative structure. It is simultaneously visceral and cerebral, precise and expansive, domestic and metaphysical, plain-speaking and poetic. Quatro’s voice is singular, heartbreaking and gorgeous. This is a novel to be treasured.”―Monica Ali. “It's rare, to the point of near non-existence, to find a book that has such literary weight and heft, yet reads like a sonnet. I look at it in puzzlement, wondering how Jamie Quatro gave such breadth, depth and intensity in so few words. And it's funny, and real, and painful, so painful. Also a shot of light. An education. A mirror. Terrifying.”―Samantha Harvey. Jamie Quatro is the daughter of a physician father and a classical pianist mother. She graduated from Pepperdine at the age of twenty, earned an M.A. in English from William and Mary, and entered a doctorial program a Princeton only to withdraw when she became pregnant with what became the first of her four children. She and her husband, Scott, moved to the South in 2006 when he accepted a college teaching job in management at Covenant College, a decidedly Christian College on Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Sewanee in the summers.

 New York: Grove Press, 2018. 224 pages. Hardback with dust jacket