Many booksellers have told me that the general essay is seeing a renaissance. Books like The Empathy Exams, The Faraway Nearby and Bad Feminist are finding healthy audiences in Indie bookstores among customers looking for thoughtful, intelligent meditations on modern life.
Add to this burgeoning genre Gerard’s Sunshine State. Like these other collections Gerard uses the lens of personal experience—her life on the Gulf Coast of Florida–to try to make sense of the human condition. Personal stories expand into meditations on larger social concerns—financial misappropriation, date rape, class tensions.
There’s been a lot of anticipation for this collection. Online it has already been mentioned in Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, The Week and The Millions. Roxane Gay mentioned in EW that it’s what she’s currently reading and PW gave it a starred review. The NYT is already set to review at on sale and it’s an Indie Next Pick.
Brave, keenly observational, and humanitarian, Gerard’s collection of essays illuminates the stark realities of Florida’s Gulf Coast. With a mixture of investigative journalism and firsthand experience, she brings to life outspoken zealots, hopeless romantics, and escapist youth. She describes the hunger of Christian Scientists for earthly and spiritual wellness, Amway members for self-determined success, adolescents for reckless euphoria, testosterone-flooded males for dominance, and the underprivileged for nothing more than adequate housing and shelter. Gerard is a virtuoso of language, which in her hands is precise, unlabored, and quietly wrought with emotion…. Gerard’s collection leaves an indelible impression. Fans of literary nonfiction and dark reverie will welcome it.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Sarah Gerard’s Sunshine State gloriously gutted me—and by that I mean changed me forever as a reader. Using Florida as a lens and the body as a ticket to travel, Gerard weaves her astonishing prose through land and corporeal truth. Sunshine State reminds us of who we really are underneath the skin we live in and the ground we stand on—and mercifully, there is still beauty, in spite of everything.”
— Lidia Yuknavitch
“Combining journalism and memoir, Gerard… brings a sharp eye to recollections of growing up on Florida’s Gulf Coast…. An intimate journey reveals a Florida few visitors would ever discover.”
“Focusing on a single state, Gerard’s scope is nonetheless quite large, and her sensitive, sympathetic writer’s sensitivity for her subjects and interviewees is apparent.”
Sunshine State: Essays (9780062434876) by Sarah Gerard. $15.99 trade paper original. 4/11/17 on sale.