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The Flower Trade

by Lon Otto


"Lon Otto has given us a gorgeous and harrowing novel, a story of a family moving to the tropics to reinvent themselves, only to find that old troubles have followed them, while new troubles await. It is a book about the strange agonies of the heart—love and regret and desire—masterfully written and vividly observed. From its evocative depictions of Costa Rica to its moving portrait of a family in crisis, every sentence of The Flower Trade speaks the truth."—Nathan Hill, author of The Nix


"Otto gives us a family from North America, out of rhythm within themselves and each other, struggling to build a new life in Costa Rica. Set in the recent past, the currents and under-currents of threatened violence, overt and covert political moves, weapons hidden where the children always find them, the reader is caught and held by extraordinary writing—scenes with such tension, we fear for each of the characters, their survival, yes, and also how relentless stress changes their souls, their hearts."—Deborah Keenan, author of ten collections of poetry, and a book of writing ideas, from tiger to prayer

"The Flower Trade charts an American family’s journey to Costa Rica seeking peace and salvation. With courage and compassion, it explores mysterious and ultimately dangerous places: the thick and tangled wilderness of desire and love, those we love, and ourselves. It is wise and funny, beautifully written, and utterly convincing—an unforgettable story, impeccably told."—Mick Cochrane, author of Flesh Wounds and Sport


"In Lon Otto’s exquisitely detailed yet expertly understated neo-noir novel, The Flower Trade, we may have found our American Graham Greene, florid and foul, gorgeous ugliness. Here is a new hard-boiled historic political domestic morally compromised—realism at its most realistically irreal. A strangeness we inhabit fully, effortlessly. A there where there is most definitely a There there. The rich twisting tropic-ness of The Flower Trade will turn you, over and over again, inside out."—Michael Martone, author of The Complete Writing of Art Smith, The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne, edited by Michael Martone and The Moon Over Wapakoneta 


Lon Otto is the author of A Nest of Hooks (U. of Iowa Press), winner of the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction; Cover Me (Coffee House Press); and A Man in Trouble (Brighthorse Books). His fiction is in a number of anthologies, including Flash Fiction and Flash Fiction Forward (Norton), American Fiction (New Rivers), Blink and Blink Again (Spout Press), and Not Normal, Illinois (Indiana U. Press). He has also published the letterpress chapbook Water Bodies(Coffee House Press) and the craft e-book Grit: Bringing Physical Experience into Imaginative Writing (Writers Workshop Press). He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, is Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and has taught for many years in the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival.   

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