Author: blairhurley

Launch Day for The Devoted!

THE DEVOTED is officially available for purchase in bookstores or online! It’s been such a busy few weeks that I haven’t updated the site here. So here’s a roundup of some of the most exciting things that have been happening with the book:

On launch day, I signed copies of The Devoted at bookstores in New York, including The Strand, McNally Jackson, and Kinokuniya. And I read at the amazing H.I.P. Lit series.

TIME MAGAZINE reviewed The Devoted, in conversation with R.O. Kwon’s The Incendiaries! Eliana Dockterman writes, “Both novels set themselves apart from others in the genre with a terrifying but insightful warning not to look for easy answers offered by false prophets”: False Prophets Come Under Fire in Two Timely Summer Novels

The Rumpus reviewed The Devoted! Maikie Paje writes, “The Devoted is a personal journey. Who you are informs your reading experience. Hurley leaves you thinking and sorting through feelings long after her final page”: Finding Her Way: The Devoted by Blair Hurley

Thanks to all the teachers, readers, writers, and friends who have brought the book to bookstores, and continue to support its release.

Readings and Events

It’s almost here, readers — THE DEVOTED will be available online and in bookstores on August 21st! It would mean a lot if you pre-ordered, on Amazon or at the Indie bookstore of your choice:
Amazon pre-order
Indie pre-order

Recent News about THE DEVOTED:

Booklist gave THE DEVOTED a starred review! Here’s an excerpt:
“Hurley’s debut is a breathtaking performance, portraying not just the ugly corners of an abusive relationship but also how faith can color the contours of our lives. With absolutely spot-on descriptions of Boston, this spellbinding story adds much-needed nuance to the discussion of faith and what we’re willing to forsake in the name of absolution.”

Library Journal picked THE DEVOTED as one of its Summer/Fall Best Reads and wrote “All lovers of great fiction with complex characters as well as anyone fascinated by narratives about religious cults will want.”

And THE DEVOTED is on the Center for Fiction’s longlist for its First Novel Prize!

I’m so excited to see the responses that have started coming in. And finally, I’ll be doing events this summer and fall in Boston, New York, Chicago, and beyond to launch The Devoted. Check back at my Events Page to see new events added. I hope to see you there!


EVENTS

AUGUST 21, 2018 / New York, NY
7pm: H.I.P. Lit Reading Series at Nowadays Bar

SEPTEMBER 5, 2018 / Toronto, ON
7pm: Reading at Ben McNally Bookstore

SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 / New York, NY
7pm: Reading and conversation with Darin Strauss at McNally Jackson Bookstore

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 / Brookline, MA
7pm: Reading and conversation with Laura Van Den Berg at Brookline Booksmith

SEPTEMBER 22, 2018 / St. Louis, MO
Panel discussion at Bookfest St Louis

SEPTEMBER 25, 2018 / Providence, RI
Point Street Reading Series at Alchemy

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 / Elkins Park, PA
8pm: Author Cabaret at St. Paul’s Elkins Park

SEPTEMBER 30, 2018 / Chicago, IL
2pm: Panel discussion at Storystudio Writers’ Festival

OCTOBER 1, 2018 / Chicago, IL
7pm: Reading and conversation with Rebekah Frumkin at Volumes Bookcafe

OCTOBER 12, 2018 / Princeton, NJ
6pm: Reading and conversation with Joyce Carol Oates, Rachel Lyon, and Lillian Li at Labyrinth Books

OCTOBER 13, 2018 / Boston, MA
Panel discussion with Sam Graham-Felsen, Yang Huang, and Fatima Farheen Mirza at Boston Book Festival

New Reviews, Longlist for First Novel Prize

A lot has happened with THE DEVOTED while I’ve been away on a writing residency! Here’s a roundup of some of the most exciting new info and responses to the book:

Kirkus calls THE DEVOTED “A thoughtful exploration of faith, surrender, and ecstasy.”

Booklist gave THE DEVOTED a starred review! Here’s an excerpt:

Hurley’s debut is a breathtaking performance, portraying not just the ugly corners of an abusive relationship but also how faith can color the contours of our lives. With absolutely spot-on descriptions of Boston, this spellbinding story adds much-needed nuance to the discussion of faith and what we’re willing to forsake in the name of absolution.

Library Journal picked THE DEVOTED as one of its Summer/Fall Best Reads and wrote “All lovers of great fiction with complex characters as well as anyone fascinated by narratives about religious cults will want.”

THE DEVOTED is on the Center for Fiction’s longlist for its First Novel Prize! 

I’m so excited to see the responses that have started coming in. Remember that pre-ordering the book on Amazon or with your local Indie bookstore really helps!

News for April: New Publications and Events

April is only half-over and it’s already been an exciting month.

I have a new piece up at Lit Hub about my “touch the bear” rule in writing.

I gave a talk at Grubstreet’s Muse and Marketplace conference on the power of scenes, and how to build more scenes into your stories.

I’m busily writing new essays about my inspiration for The Devoted, from Boston to Buddhism and all the lovely ways they intersect. Look out for those soon.

I have a new piece of flash fiction in the latest issue of the lovely Paper Darts magazine, about autopsies and the strange things I imagined that we inhale over the course of a lifetime.

From My April Newsletter: New Blurbs, and How Easter Inspired The Devoted

In my April newsletter, I release some new advance praise for The Devoted, and talk about Easter and its inspiration for The Devoted. You can subscribe here, or read an excerpt below:

 

Happy Easter and Passover, readers! This month I’m thinking about the holiday that formed such a strong part of my childhood memories, and how I decided to frame The Devoted as a story that stretched from Christmas to Easter, as a story about birth and re-birth. For the non-practicing quasi-Christians out there, maybe you went to church only on those two days out of the year — but that was enough to mean something, to shape your identity in some small way. The Devoted is about those small rituals that give us a sense of identity and bind us to our community; and it’s also about what we choose to take and what we choose to leave behind when we set out on our own paths.

New advance praise for the book:

I’m so grateful to the early readers of The Devoted, and happy to release new blurbs from them:

“The Devoted is a beautifully written story of the seductions of faith, its many desperations both light and dark. A most absorbing and psychologically astute novel that announces Blair Hurley as a brave new talent.”

–    Chang-rae Lee, author of The Surrendered

Continue reading

From my March Newsletter: How THE DEVOTED Began

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THE FIRST PAGE OF “THE DEVOTED” STARTS WITH A PROBLEM. I’d written a shaky short story for my fiction workshop. It was about Zen Buddhism, and growing up Irish Catholic; it was about getting sucked into religious devotion that became more like sexual worship. But it was talky and vague and technical and confusing. The workshop hadn’t gone well. But at the end of the painful discussion, my teacher said, “it’s not working well because there’s too much here. There’s a novel here.”
I rode the train back to my apartment in Brooklyn, clutching my wrinkled stack of commented stories, thinking about what my teacher had said. The story was a disaster; but I knew there was something there, the seed of a story, the characters and ideas I’d been mulling over, wrestling with, for most of my life.
Back in the apartment, I pulled out my 1935 Royal typewriter, a graduation present from my parents. Sometimes when the blinking cursor on a blank page on my computer felt too overwhelming, I turned to this ancient, creaking machine to get my writing done. Every key press was an effort. It felt like I was really doing something heroic. I looked out the window, let the quiet of the afternoon fill me, and I wrote a page. It was the same character I’d been writing about in my failed short story, but now the central problem of her life was laid bare, and Boston was wrapped up in it too, those long trips on the train, those muddy backyards and strangers walking by with their coat collars turned up. This time, the first page of the story was an open door into everything I wanted to say about belief, about sensuality, about family and devotion and their hard irreconcilability.

That first paragraph got tweaked and shuffled around a bit from draft to draft, but in the final work, it’s still there — and all the energy and mood, the promise of it, was what kept me going through the years it took to reach this story’s completion.

This month, I’m off to the AWP writers’ conference, which is always a huge jolt in the arm for me; it’s tremendously inspiring to learn of others’ projects, successes, and failures, and to re-connect with writers I’ve met from around the country. Coming soon will be some of the first scheduled events for The Devoted — so stay tuned.