Winner of the Story Prize Spotlight Award and the Bakeless Prize for Fiction, an imaginative debut that ranges from Havana to Berlin
- “The title story in Ben Stroud’s Byzantium is not only the best in the book, it’s the best story by a new writer I’ve read in years.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR, All Things Considered
Ancient cities and fallen empires come to life in this masterful collection. In the Byzantine court, a noble with a crippled hand is called upon to ensure a holy man poses no threat to the throne. On an island in Lake Michigan, a religious community crumbles after an ardent convert digs a little too deep. And the black detective Jackson Hieronymus Burke rises to fame and falls from favor in two stories that recount his origins in Havana and the height of his success in Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany. Ben Stroud’s historical reimaginings twist together with contemporary stories to reveal startling truths about human nature across the centuries. In his able hands, Byzantium makes us believe these are accounts we haven’t heard yet. As the chronicler of Burke’s exploits muses, “After all, where does history exist, except in our imagination? Does that make it any less true?”
- “[Stroud] evinces a sharp yet sympathetic eye for human failure. In Byzantium, Stroud extends this same eye to personal and social subjects across millennia.”—Harper's Magazine
- “[Byzantium] is proof, if ever it were needed, that the short story can hold its own alongside the novel. . . . Stroud’s stylistic prowess and panoramic range can be jaw-dropping.”—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
- “Without a doubt, Byzantium signals the arrival of an incredible talent.”—The Daily Beast
- “Byzantium . . . offers both flavor and sustenance, and will leave readers eager to learn where Stroud’s vivid historical imagination will carry him next.”—The Dallas Morning News
This book is made possible, in part, through the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize, awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference of Middlebury College in support of emerging writers, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.