Chanelle Benz-The Gone Dead

Chanelle Benz

Bio

Chanelle Benz has published short stories in Guernica, Granta.com, Electric Literature, The American Reader, Fence and The Cupboard, and is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize. Her story collection The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead was published in 2017 by Ecco. It was named a Best Book of 2017 by The San Francisco Chronicle and one of Electric Literature’s 15 Best Short Story Collections of 2017. It was also longlisted for the 2018 PEN/Robert Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. She currently lives in Memphis where she teaches at Rhodes College.

Sessions

Burying the Past Doesn’t Mean it’s Dead

Miciah Bay Gault and Chanelle Benz have both written debut novels focused on what happens when events from the past demand to be reckoned with in the present. Gault’s Goodnight Stranger tells the story of siblings – the “pathologically shy” brother and his caretaker sister – and the widespread effects after a stranger arrives and commands attention. Benz’s The Gone Dead tells the story of a woman who inherits her father’s old home and in the process learns long-held secrets about his death. Both of these novels weave vivid and harrowing stories of thought-hidden secrets exposed.

Moderator: Tia Mitchell

Tia Mitchell is a local government reporter for the AJC. Earlier this year, her “Hidden History” project dug into DeKalb’s legacy of lynchings and current efforts to recognize the known and unknown victims. Last year, Tia was temporarily assigned to write about the campaign of and elections issues raised by Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Prior to joining the AJC, she served as Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Florida Times-Union newspaper and covered politics and government with a focus on Northeast Florida. Tia is a graduate of Florida A&M University.

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The Gone Dead

Billie James’ inheritance isn’t much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn’t been back to the South since. Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father’s home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger. Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country. BUY THIS BOOK!

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