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The Gulf

A Novel
Belle Boggs
Marianne is in a slump: barely able to support herself teaching, not making progress on her poetry, about to lose her Brooklyn apartment. When her novelist ex-fiancé, Eric, and his venture capitalist brother, Mark, offer her a job directing a low-residency school for Christian writers at a motel they’ve inherited on Florida’s Gulf Coast, she can’t come up with a reason to say no.
The Genesis Inspirational Writing Ranch is born, and liberal, atheist Marianne is soon knee-deep in applications from writers whose political and religious beliefs she has always opposed, but whose money she’s glad to take. Janine is a schoolteacher whose heartfelt poems explore the final days of Terri Schiavo’s life. Davonte is a former R&B superstar who hopes to reboot his career with a best-selling tale of excess and redemption. Lorraine and Tom, eccentric writers in need of paying jobs, join the Ranch as instructors.
Mark finds an investor in God’s Word God’s World, a business that develops for-profit schools for the Christian market, but the strings that come along with their support become increasingly problematic, especially as Marianne grows closer to the students. As unsavory allegations mount, a hurricane bears down on the Ranch, and Marianne is faced with the consequences of her decisions.
With sharp humor and deep empathy, in this timely debut novel Belle Boggs plumbs the troubled waters dividing America.

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A hilarious sendup of writing workshops, for-profit education, and the gulf between believers and nonbelievers 

About the Author

Belle  Boggs
Credit: Barbara Tyroler
Belle Boggs is the author of The Art of Waiting and Mattaponi Queen. Her stories and essays have appeared in Orion, Harper’s, the Paris Review, Ecotone, Slate, and many other publications. She teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.
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Upcoming Events

Belle Boggs reading at The Regulator Bookshop

Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NCview map

Belle Boggs reading at Books & Books Coral Gables

Books & Books--Coral Gables in Coral Gables, FLview map
In conversation with Yvonne Conza.

Belle Boggs appearing as part of Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

LA Times Festival of Books in El Segundo, CAview map
"Writing Writers: Novels About Struggling Artists," a panel with Dana Czapnik, Christopher Farley, and Juliet Lapidos. Moderated by Agatha French. Location: Mudd Hall 203. This event requires a free ticket (available April 7).

Belle Boggs reading at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe

Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, NCview map

Belle Boggs reading at Quail Ridge Books

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NCview map
In conversation with Sarah Ruiz.

Belle Boggs reading at McIntyre's Books

McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, NCview map
Reading and in conversation with Therese Fowler.


  • “Readers will find this witty, nuanced work both satisfying and resonant.”Publishers Weekly
  • “Not to be missed. A rare combination of silliness and poignancy, with momentum and compassion. . . . This is a novel of keen comedy, insight and empathy.”—Shelf Awareness
  • “[A] deliciously sharp commentary on the stories we tell ourselves.”—Jade Chang
  • The Gulf is literally a DIVINE read—it's also smart, profound, very funny, and finally redemptive.”—Lee Smith
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