Have Mercy on Us

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Each of the ten stories in Have Mercy on Us is an illuminating window into a human life. In the way of all the best fiction, these stories enlarge our understanding of what it means to be alive and to love, with characters who leap off the page. In this award-winning collection, the people are varied in age, race, and origin. An old man travels to a village in Kenya in an attempt to bring his estranged son home; against her mother’s wishes, a young woman attends the funeral of the father she never met, hoping to forge a relationship with her eight siblings; a woman long married to a renowned artist whose infidelity is nearly blatant, takes things into her own hands in a brilliantly realized moment of independence; in an imagined, loving portrait, the writer Zora Neale Hurston is shown near the end of her life in 1948, working as a maid in a motel in Ft. Pierce, Florida. Spare, romantic without being sentimental, these powerful stories are, above all, about love, and the ways in which we strive to make and keep connection. This is an important new voice with vision, and grace—cause for celebration.

Praise for Have Mercy On Us

“What exquisite stories these are, each of them immaculately composed, each of them powerfully transporting, carrying us away to Greece and Africa and Toronto and elsewhere, carrying us also into troubled, quietly impassioned human lives that remind us of our own. A superb story is, for me, one that makes me wish I had written it, and I wish I had written all ten of these brilliant, tender, and beautiful stories. This book deserves prizes.”

– Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried

“Everybody in this gorgeous, illuminating collection is cheating, posing, yearning, lost – in other words, human. Lisa Cupolo tells these stories with the merciful, merciless third eye of a truly gifted writer.”

– Danzy Senna, author of Caucasia and New People

“What a remarkable book of stories Have Mercy on Us is. With settings that range from small-town Canada to rural Kenya to 1940s Florida, its vibrant plots kept surprising me at every turn. I loved never knowing what these characters were going to do, as the ironies of life unfolded around them. A wonderful collection.”

– Joan Silber, author of Improvement, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

“Lisa Cupolo has a masterful gift for locating the most vulnerable, make it or break it, moment in a relationship, and then exploring the outcome with great insight and wisdom. The accomplished stories in Have Mercy on Us—skillfully varied in tone and geography—come together thematically to reveal the emotional price of love and loss. Will a young mother choose to leave her family? Will a husband continue to cheat even when confronted? Will an unacknowledged child be accepted into a family? Will a child come home when begged to do so? Some of the shifts are subtle but none are simple and all are memorable and satisfying.”

-Jill McCorkle, author of Heiroglyphics

“In her masterful collection, Lisa Cupolo investigates the tender ironies that define our friendships, marriages and love affairs, our fragile dreams, and the very things that make us human. These heart and soul stories shimmer with intelligence and deep insight, written by a remarkable new voice in fiction.”

– Elizabeth Brundage, author of The Vanishing Point

“Lisa Cupolo’s vivid, earthy, richly imagined stories paint a landscape of legends and losers, well-knit women and troublesome men, ambivalent mothers and doting fathers—in other words humans at every stage of connection and folly. The mercy in Have Mercy on Us is that Cupolo has conjured a world seen through her wise, unflinching, and big-hearted gaze. And that is grace.”

– Carol Edgarian, author of Vera