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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 McIntyre's Books

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

Belle Boggs reading at Chop Suey

Chop Suey Books in Richmond, VAview map
Reading and in conversation with Katy Resch George.

Belle Boggs reading at Flyleaf Books

Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NCview map
Reading and in conversation with Joanna Pearson.


  • “Belle Boggs is a witty, incisive writer, and The Gulf, her first novel, deftly satirizes everything from for-profit schools to the MFA industrial complex, American liberals and conservatives, and the hypocrisies of both sides.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
  • “’The Gulf’ is a genuinely funny look at an intriguing microcosm of disparate writers fumbling through life, striving to have their voices heard. But what makes ‘The Gulf’ resonate is the fact that while no one’s political views are changed in the end, a mutual respect is forged that holds a glimmer of promise for a future less divided.”Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • “Boggs nails the launching point for her satire of for-profit education and the unholy links between manipulation, money, and writing. But The Gulf is more than just a witty parody: Boggs uses the Ranch as a lens through which to examine our fractured country, where the inability to allow for ambivalence keeps us separated by a gulf. In Boggs’s ultimately redemptive novel, it is language—poetry—that bridges that gulf.”BOMB
  • “[The Gulf] beautifully balances absurdity and emotional depth, complete with a bombastic state representative, an epiphanic hurricane, and Marianne's journey, if not to faith, then to salvation.” Booklist, starred review
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