Ippy Award Silver Medalist, Benjamin Franklin Silver Medalist
Powell's Books Best Fiction of 2018
Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week. Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431.
Marvin Deitz has some serious problems. His mob-connected landlord is strong-arming him out of his storefront. His therapist has concerns about his stability. He’s compelled to volunteer at the local Children’s Hospital even though it breaks his heart every week.
Oh, and he’s also the guilt-ridden reincarnation of Geoffroy Thérage, the French executioner who lit Joan of Arc’s pyre in 1431. He’s just seen a woman on a Los Angeles talk show claiming to be Joan, and absolution seems closer than it’s ever been . . . but how will he find her?
When Marvin heads to Los Angeles to locate the woman who may or may not be Joan, he’s picked up hitchhiking by Mike Vale, a self-destructive alcoholic painter traveling to his ex-wife’s funeral. As they move through a California landscape populated with “smokes” (ghostly apparitions that’ve inexplicably begun appearing throughout the southwestern US), each seeks absolution in his own way.
- State of Wonder, OPB – “Take A Weird Road Trip In Keith Rosson’s Latest Novel, ‘Smoke City'” – Taped Interview
- Powell’s Best Fiction of 2018 – “”Rosson tackles the big life questions in this book, picking apart themes of purpose, redemption, suffering, forgiveness, addiction, passion, talent, guilt, the unknowable nature of life and death, the ways in which we help each other and the ways in which we hinder, the joy of living and the anticipation of death, and the absolute necessity of an examined life. His talent is staggering, his craft is meticulous, and his story is one of the quirkiest but most heartfelt I have ever read. He will clench your heart and drag you through his landscape of horror and bliss. You’ll be so utterly grateful for it.” – Full Article
- Foreword Reviews (starred review) – “A brilliantly haunting tale of forgiveness and redemption even in the face of abject failure . . . Depravity and grace meet in a powerful, profound, and lavish banquet for the soul.” – Full Review
- Linda Hepworth, Nudge-Book Magazine – “[A] story about hope, about love and about the essential decency of people . . . hugely satisfying . . . the literary quality of Keith Rosson’s writing is truly remarkable and, at times, quite breathtakingly beautiful.” – Full Review
- Kirkus Reviews – “A surreal road novel about misfits on a journey to Southern California … An offbeat, strangely satisfying adventure through a land full of (literal) ghosts.” – Full Review
- New York Journal of Books – “Keith Rosson has a remarkable talent. He’s created an enjoyable story, an offbeat, occasionally absurd but haunting tale of life, death, heartbreak, and ultimately, redemption—if not in the way expected.” – Full Review
- Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (4.5 stars) – “Keith Rosson is making a name for himself as a genre-defying author, and this book fits that description. Perhaps magical realism would be the best label for his work. I enjoyed his blend of literary drama and the supernatural, and I’ll
be looking out for more of his work.”
- Indiepicks Magazine – “Rosson creates a fantasy where a very real world of human relationships filled with common concerns such as forgiveness or guilt mixes with fantastic elements in a seemingly matter-of-fact way, similar to the slipstream style of writers such as Kelly Link, Ted Chiang, or Jonathan Lethem. Smoke City is an involving and engrossing blend of fantasy and the everyday, and is highly recommended to anyone looking for the sort of book that allow a reader to get lost within its pages.”
- Razorcake Magazine – “Rosson is a gifted writer. Throughout Smoke City, he maintains distinct narrative voices, incorporating media reports and journal entries to add heft and credibility to a story that in lesser hands might not pack as much punch, or sound remotely feasible. Beyond the stylistic elements, though, what Rosson does here is create a cast of cantankerous, difficult characters—then he brings readers around to liking them.” – Full Review
- Dianah Hughley, Bookseller, Powell’s (5 stars) – “Rosson’s talent is staggering, his craft is meticulous, and his story is one of the quirkiest, but most heartfelt I have ever read.” – Full Review
- NWBookLovers.org – “Study the Executioner” – Full Article
- Ditrie Marie Bowie (5 stars) – “A gritty urban fantasy read with elements of magical realism.” – Full Review
- Metaphors & Moonlight (4 stars) – “This was one of those books that called to me as soon as I read the blurb. And fortunately, this book was exactly what I was hoping it would be—strange, quirky, and offbeat, but also touching. The characters had depth and unique voices. The writing was rich.” – Full Review
- TRL Reviews – “The way in which the different stories come together to form a cohesive and beautifully absurd plot keeps the reader turning page after page. This was by no means a mystery but I found myself in a state of delightful suspense during many parts of the book. ” – Full Review
- Infinite Typewriters – “This book is mad. And I mean that in the best way. I don’t think I’ve read anything this imaginative or unpredictable in a long time.” – Full Review
- JD Dehart Reading & Lit Resources – “Smoke City was a super cool read that worked for me in a fashion similar to JG Ballard (whose work I greatly enjoy). It’s a blend of realism and fantasy that flows off the page quite nicely.” – Full Review