Black Sheep Boy

2017 / 2018

PEN Center USA Fiction Award Winner

National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Winner

Simpson Family Literary Prize Finalist

Los Angeles Times Literary Pick

NPR: The Reading Life Featured Book

The Millions Best Summer Horror Selection

Book Riot Must-Read Indie Press Book

On Top Down Under Book of the Year Finalist

Best Gay Fiction Selection

Best Gay Speculative Fiction Selection

"Black Sheep Boy speaks to all outsiders and misfits aching for a place of their own, a place free of judgment, persecutions, and violence. In prose reminiscent of Dorothy Allison, John Rechy, and William Faulkner, Martin Pousson’s novel-in-stories charting the life and experiences of a young gay man is told in a voice as elegant as it is searing. Pousson’s style is unlike any in contemporary American letters; each sentence soars off the page, each character so fully realized readers will hear them laugh, cry, and curse long after the final paragraph is sung. An essential and necessary contribution to the canon of LGBTQ literature, Black Sheep Boy is a daring achievement penned by a courageous and graceful writer whose talent knows no limit."

~PEN Center USA Fiction Award Judges Chris Abani, Alex Espinoza, Jervey Tervalon

"Martin Pousson writes with such lush honesty, such charged intimacy, about the real and the unreal, about danger and sex and home. I don't know quite how to describe the hypnotic power of Black Sheep Boy, except to say that the book is somehow a spell and a mercy, both."

~Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

"Black Sheep Boy is beautifully crafted and Pousson is immensely talented. When you reach the end of a sentence, you realize that he blew your mind five words ago. He wastes not a single word. He dances on the page wearing tap shoes, their soles rolled in black ink. Gorgeous."

~ Natashia Déon, author of Grace

“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

“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

“Lyrical, propulsive, and hauntingly vivid, Martin Pousson's Black Sheep Boy hums with bayou life. With magic and myth and that old-time religion, Pousson's novel-in-stories plumbs the painful depths of alienation and rises again singing, dancing with defiant exuberance.”

~ Matthew Griffin, author of Hide

“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

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

~ Jake Shears, Lead Singer of Scissor Sisters

“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

“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

“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.”“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

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

"An unforgettable novel…brutally honest and hypnotic…surreal and poetic…an entertaining and dazzling read, and a heartfelt ode to ‘the odd ducks, strange birds, and queer fish’ among us."

 ~ Zyzzyva

“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

"Raw and unflinching, reminiscent of Genet’s The Thief’s JournalBlack Sheep Boy takes LGBTQ lit in a fresh and exciting direction. Pousson has created something exhilarating: a novel-in-stories that shows religion, class, and race as inextricably entwined to the challenges of coming of age as a gay man in the South."

 ~ Arizona Daily Sun

“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."

On Top Down Under Book Reviews

“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

“Full of characters whose minds and bodies stretch away from the present and into mysticism and desire, aching for transformation…a glimpse of the Other that I know, that I have lived, and I read the final page dually devastated and freed.”

~ Gertrude

“A master class in storytelling, a primer on what it means to be mixed-race, to be different, to be powerless… 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.”

~ GGR Review

Meet Boo, 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, Boo 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.

Black Sheep Boy Book Cover by Martin Pousson



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


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.”


“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.”



“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