In The Violence Almanac, Miah Jeffra complicates the boundaries between culture and nature, fiction and true-crime, desire and pain. In this powerful fiction debut, Jeffra takes us through the California landscape to map the various ways that violence emerges, terrorizes and shapes our most familiar social structures.
Familiar and real, ripped from headlines yet a fiction all its own, The Violence Almanac vacillates between visceral horror and heartbreaking humanity. With a broad array of voices, these stories paint a portrait of the vastly diverse, complicated, hyper-mediated state of California and the state of ourselves, and blurs the line between safety and danger, love and obsession, victim and agent of violence.
San Francisco Chronicle
"Jeffra is a master of writing that stands out in how unflinchingly it inhabits and experiments with abstract ideas."
"Throughout these portraits of the exhausted and murderous, the carelessly angry, and the heartbroken and vengeful, Jeffra compassionately and unflinchingly depicts an array of desperate characters as they try to attain the lives they’ve always dreamed of. While the stories can be emotionally challenging, they resonate deeply."
Free State Review
"The Violence Almanac is both a deeply unsettling and insightful book. The prose ranges from lyrical to matter of fact, intimately psychological to cooly distant, Miah Jeffra flourishing a chameleon’s grasp of style."
Andrew Sean Greer
"Brilliant and daring, full of horror and tenderness, The Violence Almanac gives us the American stories we need to be reading."
"The Violence Almanac is full of complex, flawed and wonderfully alive characters, written with empathy and honesty. Jeffra’s love for language and humanity is evident in this book, yet he demands us to face the ugliness of our society, even in the most likeable of characters. I am deeply impressed by this collection and this writer. "
Out in Print
"The Violence Almanac glitters like a dark diamond. Wholly engaging and as tough as it is compulsive to read, this is storytelling at its finest."
"The Violence Almanac is a jewel of a collection–formally inventive, transgressive, darkly funny at times, deeply moving at others. The stories bring together a variety of voices and perspectives to create a cohesive and stunning portrait of contemporary America. Miah Jeffra is a true original, and a talent to watch."
"Miah Jeffra’s brilliant stories in the The Violence Almanac seethe with life lived close to the eyes. The unrelenting gaze of the narrators, who stay perhaps too long on their subjects: from a mother, based on Andrea Yates, systematically drowning her children to her husband, fists pounding the ground; from a prostitute avenging the death of her friend to a man trying to save a fledgling pigeon–all is included in these honest, incisive stories. But the gaze is only part of it; Jeffra’s goal is understanding the meaning of his own structures, a relentless quest for the hidden, the difficult, the paradoxical. Small, subtle movements from a twitch to a swallow are interpreted as signs. That much is broken and imperfect is not overlooked; it is cause for investigation and appreciation of the tangled truths of experience. Jeffra is a hyperrealist, and the stories vibrate with pain and love."
"The Violence Almanac provides a complicated and nuanced portrait of contemporary American violence as much as it does the multiplicity of California itself. "
"The Violence Almanac is not a flawless work. But it is moving, thought-provoking, honest, and strong enough that even its faults have merits and are worth experiencing."