Black Sheep Boy

2016

National Endowment for the Arts Award Winner

PEN Center USA Fiction Award Finalist

On Top Down Under Book of the Year Finalist

Best Gay Stories

Best Gay Speculative Fiction: Wilde Stories

NPR: The Reading Life Featured Book

Los Angeles Times Literary Pick

Meet a wild-hearted boy from the bayou land of Louisiana. Misfit, outcast, loner. Call him anything but a victim. Sissy, fairy, Jenny Woman. Son of a mixed-race Holy Ghost mother and a Cajun French phantom father. In a series of tough and tender stories, he encounters gender outlaws, drag queen renegades, and a rogues gallery of sex-starved priests, perverted teachers, and murderous bar owners. To escape his haunted history, the wild-hearted boy must shed his old skin and make a new self. As he does, his story rises from dark and murk, from moss and mud, to reach a new light and a new brand of fairy tale. Cajun legends, queer fantasies, and universal myths converge into a powerful work of counter-realism. Black Sheep Boy is a song of passion and a novel of defiance.


“Electrical, convulsive, hallucinatory, elemental…a book to give you fevers, chills, and visions.”

~ Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day


“Beautifully impressionistic, and also raw, open, and vulnerable. Pousson’s bayou is such a frightening and vibrant place, generous and punishing, and the narrator’s perspective pulls us in, and brings the reader close.”

~ Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master


“An unforgettable novel-in-stories about growing up gay in French Acadiana, so vivid and almost fairy tale-like, drawing on folklore from the region, and yet so brutally realistic. Brilliant. I loved this book.”

~ Susan Larson, NPR: The Reading Life


“Pick up and read this fucking book. It's intensely wild.”

~ Jake Shears, Lead Singer of Scissor Sisters


“Martin Pousson expertly probes the horror of circumstance, place, family, and sexuality through a disjointed series of stories about a ‘no-name’ narrator growing up in the Cajun region of Louisiana. Black Sheep Boy frames its fear through tragic misunderstanding, violence, and sexual confusion, and it illuminates the terrible aching divide of understanding between family members. Highly recommended.”

 ~ The Millions

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“What Pousson does so masterfully is to take such a dazzlingly fantastical and specific world and render it universally recognizable to anyone who's grown up queer in a world that would—sometimes violently—prefer he or she did not. While he artfully lifts the veil on a world outside of most people's experience, he also offers an outstretched hand of solidarity to every black sheep boy and girl who's lucky enough to pick up a copy of his book.”

~ Lambda Literary

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“Pousson...blends Southern Gothic literary heritage, his Cajun upbringing, and his distinctive voice to tell a novel in stories. It follows a boy from Louisiana as he travels through a world full of dangers, both mythical and physical. This is the kind of book you don't have to be LGBT-plus to enjoy; you just need to pick up a copy and start reading.”

~ Los Angeles Times Literary Pick

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“Seductive and thrilling… depths of passion and longing…this book really does cast a spell on you, and the effect is wild and wondrous. Magical realism has moved north to Acadiana, and the spell takes. This is a novel of masks, hidden shames that explode into ecstasy.”

~ The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide

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“Like a priceless gem, Black Sheep Boy is multi-faceted. The writing remains effortlessly lyrical, mesmerizingly inviting, and non-judgmental. The ending is perfection and left up to the reader. One mighty fine piece of writing, one powerful piece of queer literature. Do yourself a favor, go grab this book. 5 Stars!"

~ On Top Down Under Book Reviews

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"This is a master class in storytelling, a primer on what it means to be mixed race, to be different, to be powerless in the face of belief masquerading as truth. The author invites you to not just walk in another’s shoes, but to don his skin. Black Sheep Boy speaks to the universal truths of being in a world not designed for you and others like you. It is simply brilliant and worth a galaxy of stars. This is worth your time; it is a highly recommended read. 5 Stars."

GGR Review

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“What I loved: the beautiful prose, the Louisiana setting, and a story that wasn’t a romance. I appreciated the almost tall tale quality to it all and the rich history and cultural flavor. Because it isn’t tied with direct references to a particular era, it has a timeless quality to it. A phenomenally well-written book.”

~ Inked Rainbow Reads


“The writing style is deeply visceral… embodies the spirit of Whitman’s ‘I am large and I contain multitudes.’ Pousson does a fantastic job using language to set the stage for…the stunningly rich backdrop of the Louisiana bayou starring a hodgepodge cast of characters that mirror the kaleidoscope of individuals that might crop up in anyone’s life.”

~ Joyfully Jay


“The beauty of the novel is in the way that author Martin Pousson makes the fantastic and specific world of the bayous…recognizable to all of us growing up gay in a place that does not provide solace and comfort.”

~ Reviews By Amos Lassen


“The title story of this novel-in-stories is wonderful, as are all the rest. Pousson is a huge talent.”

~ The Other Stories


“If you like coming-of-age stories about freaky and fabulous southern sissies (and who doesn't?) Black Sheep Boy is a must read. Set in the bayou land of Louisiana, this fabulist tale kept me entranced. Queer lit at its finest!”

~ Justin Vivian Bond, author of Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels


“A fantastic read! Poetic and honest, painful yet beautiful.”

~ Candi Sary, author of Black Crow, White Lie


Black Sheep Boy is a harrowing story of survival…of being an outcast…an excellent read that reminds us that gay life is not always ‘gay.’”

~ Carlos Allende, author of Love, or the Witches of Windward Circle


“Martin Pousson is a wizard with words.”

~ Rich Ferguson, author of New Jersey Me


Black Sheep Boy Book Cover by Martin Pousson

Sugar

2005

Lambda Literary Award Finalist
Gay Men's Poetry

"Here is the poet Louisiana has always wanted. Gulf Coast heat turns into huge trees and lush flora, which then turns into sex and dramatic dialogue. Desire so metamorphic inevitably slides into hallucination. To convey experience at the edge, Martin Pousson has invented a new poetics that takes from the earlier art only its intense imagery and verbal economy. The few dozen pages of Sugar bring a tragic and sensuous bayou landscape unforgettably to life."

--Alfred Corn, author of Stake and Contradictions


"Martin Pousson's dirty south, chock full of fresh wounds and age-old alienation, is a pure pleasure to read again and again. For those willing to ride shotgun, just know that is road is torn to shreds. And his sugar ain't sweet. It's scorched."

--Jake Shears, Scissor Sisters


"With Sugar, Martin Pousson returns to the territory that activated his novel, No Place Louisiana, recharging that fertile ground with a shift from prose to poetry. The result is a series of compressed observations, by turns satiric and heartbreaking, languorous, outraged, and tender."

--Dave King, author of The Ha-Ha


"A story snakes through this book, the violent story of how things are made--sugar, love, lonely people. Likewise, Martin Pousson's poems seem burned into being, like the tattoos that mark them, the flour for making roux, the scars of youth. These fire-wrought poems crackle with sex and longing, leaving a taste on the tongue, ash on the heart."

--Priscilla Becker, author of Internal West


"Pousson's Sugar shoves the edge of the knife into the bone. With poems like 'Directions' and the bare-faced grit of Louisiana's 'Live Oak' he delves us into the ferocity of AIDS, the scars it leaves behind, the memory where 'I could kiss him anywhere/he said/except his mouth.'"

--Olympia Vernon, author of Eden and A Killing in This Town


"The poems in Martin Pousson's debut volume of verse, Sugar, are achingly bittersweet, unfolding in touching fits and starts, and full of startlingly timed shocks. It's evocative of Elizabeth Bishop's Geography III but with balls and more politically intrepid."

--Richard Rambuss, author of Closet Devotions


"Martin Pousson's careful use of forms--from couplets to triplets to prose poems--tautens his deeply felt meditations on home and family, exclusion and loss, wounding and survival."

--John Biguenet, author of The Torturer's Apprentice and Oyster


"In Sugar, Pousson has masterfully mined the infinitely complex overlapping edges of language, perception, desire, and recollection that comprise what we call experience. These are the poems of someone who has not just survived, but someone who feels impelled to thrive."

--Tom Woolley, author of Toilet

Sugar by Martin Pousson Book Cover

No Place Louisiana

2002

John Gardner Fiction Book Award Finalist

“Pousson has not only created a Southern family descended straight from the Babbitts and the Bridges, he has given us a book of startling complexity, originality, and power.”

--Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and The Snow Queen

 

“I haven’t felt myself in the grip of a voice this powerful since I first read Dorothy Allison and Frank McCourt. Martin Pousson is that kind of major new talent.”

--Christine Wiltz, author of The Last Madam

 

“Pousson brings remarkable insight and literary power to the landscape of the American novel.”

--Lis Harris, author of Holy Days and Rules of Engagement

 

“Superb…a quietly riveting story...the Southern answer to The Ice Storm; from its sultry pages there emerges a chilling portrait of a family in a very deep freeze.”

--Los Angeles Times


“Bayou classic…powerful and empathetic…a beautiful ode to the lonely and unloved.”

--The New Orleans Times-Picayune

 

“Martin Pousson’s debut novel is like a long, sad Cajun ballad…Pousson writes about the angry, embittered souls with the insight that illuminates their fragility.”

--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

“Pousson evokes the doomed passion of Tennessee Williams.”

--The Advocate

 

“Pousson’s portrait of discontent is made up of piercing vignettes and Louisiana-inflected dialogue…to evoke the prejudices and limitations of Cajun culture in its unique, enriching, and destructive complexity.”

--Publishers Weekly


“A stark portrait of familial relationships and naked ambition…many veteran authors have yet to write a novel of this depth.”

--Bookreporter


“Richly descriptive…Pousson is marvelous at setting up scenes…a story that stays with us.”

--The Boston Globe

 

“A story woven with the prejudices and desires that fill the Cajun landscape.”

--New York Daily News

 

“Sure-footed, richly textured, and deeply tragic.”

--The Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

“A moving, compelling story, and above all else, it’s a good read…No Place, Louisiana should whet any voracious reader’s appetite with its strong, realistic characters and high drama.”

--Genre

 

“A Southern cracker’s version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

 

“His description of the relentless heat, the flat landscape and the seedy small-town buildings is dead on…Pousson has invented strong characters with a strong sense of place.”

--The Sunday Advocate Magazine

 

“It will be extremely interesting to see what this author does next.”

--Kirkus Reviews

No Place Louisiana Book Cover by Martin Pousson