“Not since the abrupt—and welcome—rediscovery of Lucia Berlin’s short fictions in 2015 have I read such a marvelous story collection as Janice Deal’s Strange Attractors. In a quietly luminous and deceptively steady voice, Deal mines the lives and burdens of the generally overlooked citizens of Ephrem, Illinois, a semi-rural community college town near the Wisconsin border. She makes her gallery of strangers our intimates in the way Willa Cather once did.”
JAMES MAGRUDER, author of Vamp Until Ready
"Deal’s sensitive stories reflect both the hope and the despair experienced in a small town where not much will ever truly change."
“The characters in Ephrem lead mundane lives, until [Janice] Deal telescopes in to moments of revealed truths, sudden outbursts and hidden traumas, making the residents more complex and deeply relatable. The challenges they face in this Wisconsin border town are universal: loneliness, financial insecurity, strained family relationships, alcohol abuse, a persistent feeling of restlessness.”
"Who can encounter misfits without remembering Flannery O’Connor? Deal’s voice and people are uniquely her own, but share something of O’Connor’s eerie magnification, a hallucinatory exposure of evil within the quotidian."
"Because it is set in a small town, it is tempting to compare Deal’s collection to Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio. There are certain similarities. But Deal seems a little closer to Anton Chekov than Anderson. She handles fine grades of emotion with humor and wistfulness, and with a surgeon’s delicate touch . . . These strange stories stay with you, attracting more meaning when they’re read again."
Chicago Review of Books has named Janice's linked story collection Strange Attractors from New Door Books one of the 12 must-read books of September. Michael Welch writes, "These intricately written stories come together to shed light on the uncertainties that exist in the modern American heartland." Click below for the complete list!
The Sound of Rabbits is a heartfelt novel of fragile love between sisters, estranged through distance and grudges, striving to find their bond, even if they don’t have the words to express it. With keen insights and spot-on descriptions, Janice Deal animates her novel with characters from a small town in Wisconsin where parents struggle to make ends meet, children seek their passions, nature is cruel, and the past is never really past.
An unflinching, yet loving, portrait of a complicated family.”
JAN ENGLISH LEARY, author of Thicker Than Blood, Skating on the Vertical, and Town and Gown
"Original, entertaining, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, The Sound of Rabbits is an impressive work of literary fiction and highly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections."
“[Janice] Deal deftly entwines Ruby’s and Val’s introspections with slice-of-life perspectives of other characters, creating a nuanced exploration of the complications of identity, regret, family, and community.”
Below is a link to the (gated) review for those of you who subscribe to Booklist.
“Deal’s prose style is pretty and compact. She moves easily between voices old and young, male and female. The individual character studies shine with specificity and insight. With the introduction of each character, we see more of the picture ... The Sound of Rabbits is superbly crafted.”
Chicago Tribune Books Editor Christopher Borrelli says, “Janice Deal, another story ace from Chicago, goes the novel route with The Sound of Rabbits, a palpably homesick story about two sisters reuniting in their small Wisconsin town, drawn back into a place they once either wanted to escape or forget.” (For those lacking a Chicago Tribune subscription, click here for the syndicated version of the column that appeared in Yahoo! News.)
In The Decline of Pigeons, Janice Deal leads us deep into the heart of human nature to reveal the turmoil, self-delusion, and moments of unexpected clarity that accompany profound loss. I love these characters—flawed, real, and marked by compassion. And I love Deal’s voice: arresting, brave, uniquely her own. I will return to this book again and again, for the joy and sense of solace it brings me.”
KATHERINE SHONK, author of The Red Passport
and Happy Now?
JANICE DEAL is the author of a novel, The Sound of Rabbits (Regal House, 2023), and two short story collections: The Decline of Pigeons (Queen’s Ferry, 2013), and a linked collection, Strange Attractors (New Door Books, 2023). The Decline of Pigeons was a Flannery O’Connor Award finalist. The Sound of Rabbits was a finalist for both the Many Voices Project annual competition and the Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize. Stories from Strange Attractors won The Moth Short Story Prize and the Cagibi Macaron Prize. Janice has also received an Illinois Arts Council Artists Fellowship Award for prose. She lives with her husband in the Chicago area.
- Sun, Oct 22Oct 22, 1:00 PM – 1:50 PM CDTTennessee State Library & Archives, 1001 Rep. John Lewis Way N Nashville, TN
- Tue, Oct 17Oct 17, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDTThe Cliff Dwellers Club, 200 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604, USA
- Thu, Sep 28Sep 28, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM CDTBookends & Beginnings, 1620 Orrington Ave, Evanston, IL 60201, USA
- Thu, Sep 14Sep 14, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM CDTBarbara's Bookstore, 120 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, IL 60148, USA
- Thu, Jul 06Jul 06, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM EDTPage 158 Books, 415-B Brooks St, Wake Forest, NC 27587, USA
- Fri, Jun 23Jun 23, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM CDTBarbara's Bookstore, 120 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, IL 60148, USA
Janice and Deborah Kalb talk about patience, Flannery O'Connor's misfits, and the ways in which revelations can hide in plain sight.
Janice talks writing with Karen Halvorsen Schreck for Hypertext Magazine; their wide-ranging confab covers the influence of music on creativity, Janice's literary pilgrimages, how the Midwest has informed her writing, and more.
Lou Reed. Lana Del Rey. David Bowie. Weyes Blood. They (and many more artists) appear on a Sound of Rabbits playlist, created by Janice for Largehearted Boy. The playlist consists of 11 songs associated with the principal characters in the book — even a cat named Jellybean. Happy listening!
New media: click here to listen to a confab between Janice and Author2Author host Bill Kenower. The convo touches on the differences between working on a novel versus a short story, how Janice got into writing in the first place, Finnish films, and more! (Hint: to listen to the episode, click on the play button at the upper left of the web page, beneath the Blog Talk Radio logo.)
"These extraordinary tales offer a masterful snapshot of life in today’s small-town America": Michael Welch weighs in on Strange Attractors, including the title on a Chicago Review of Books list of the most anticipated Chicago books of 2023.
New podcast: click here to view/listen to a podcast from Book Stew featuring a discussion of The Sound of Rabbits.
How does place inform fiction? Read Janice's essay for Women Writers, Women's Books.
Janice and Regal House get down to brass tacks and discuss the big issues — such as the importance of chocolate to writing. Read here.