2008 fiction finalist

Pamela Erens | The Understory

Photo of authorAbout the author
The Understory, Pamela Erens's debut novel, was the winner of the Ironweed Press Fiction Prize, as well as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in a variety of literary and general-interest magazines, including Chicago Review, The Literary Review, Glamour, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

About the book
Set in New York City and in a Buddhist monastery in rural Vermont, The Understory is both a mystery and a psychological study and reveals that repression and self-expression can be equally destructive. An attraction to another man, a near stranger, takes the narrator by surprise, destabilizes his precarious balance, and culminates in unexpected violence.

Critics / Reviews
"A mesmerizing tale... a universal human cry for love."  — ForeWord Magazine, September/October 2007

"An elegant, understated study of physical and psychic dislocations . . . artfully detailed and beautifully rendered."  — Chicago Tribune, December 22, 2007

"Jack Gorse, the bookish, obsessive protagonist of Pamela Erens' debut novel, is part of a long line of literary wanderers. Like Binx Bolling, from Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, Jack is an astute observer, a metaphysician of the ordinary, but a faltering amateur at living the life he so skillfully dissects...The Understory is a worthy Northern counterpart to Percy's metaphysical exploration, and a reminder that originality and depth can be found in a fiction's language, not just in the breadth of the experience it represents."  — Small Spiral Notebook, October 8, 2007

"Erens is an exceptional writer."  — El Paso Times, October 28, 2007