Nicole Hennessy’s life revolves around her Zen practice at the Boston Zendo, seeking spiritual solace in the tenets of Buddhism. After a decade of grueling spiritual practice under her master’s tutelage, living on a shoestring as a shop clerk, Nicole has become sexually and emotionally entangled with her mentor. To break free, she must retrace her entire life’s journey–from her strict Irish Catholic upbringing to her drug-fueled year as a teenage runaway. Even as she reinvents herself in New York City, her master’s intoxicating voice pursues her, whispering dangerously in her ear. Somehow, he knows everything.
“Blair Hurley’s first novel is a sharp-eyed account of the psychological and sexual hold a spiritual ‘master’ can get on a lost young woman. What could have seemed like a fable in other hands, in Hurley’s is mordant and convincing. A spectacular debut!”
– Edmund White
Blair Hurley received her A.B. from Princeton University and her M.F.A. from NYU. Her stories are published or forthcoming in Ninth Letter, The Georgia Review, West Branch, Mid-American Review, Washington Square, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Descant, Fugue, and elsewhere. She has received a 2018 Pushcart Prize and scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.
Darin Strauss was born in Long Island and attended Tufts University. His first novel, Chang & Eng was the runner-up for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, the Literary Lions Award, a Borders Award winner. His second book, The Real McCoy, was named New York Times Notable Book. His most recent work is Half a Life, which won 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and kids. He teaches writing at New York University.