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Kings of Broken Things Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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“Set during the Red Summer, Kings of Broken Things perfectly encapsulates both the frailty and darkness of the volatile period that saw the end of World War I, the shift from an agrarian to industrial society, heartland baseball, and the brutal lynching of Will Brown that led to the Omaha Race Riot. Powerful and resonant, this book’s relevance, in the context of today’s concerns, cannot be overstated.” —Julie Iromuanya, author of Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
“A beautifully written novel about an ugly, tumultuous time in history, Kings of Broken Things is an exciting, gritty portrait of a corrupt American city on the edge of self-destruction. It’s a novel that simmers, like Doctorow’s Ragtime, leaning forward always toward its powerful final chapters. Whether writing about violins or baseball or bordellos, Wheeler demonstrates a dazzling talent for bringing history alive, offering breathtaking insights into the hearts and minds of these immigrants and outsiders.” —Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola
"The rhythms of baseball run through the prose of Kings of Broken Things, as the game becomes a gateway into the stories we tell ourselves about America. This is a book that questions those stories and gives itself over to the conflict at the core of them, all told in sentences that skip along like a perfectly struck ground ball." —Matthew Salesses, author of The Hundred-Year Flood
“In this marvelous debut novel, Theodore Wheeler’s clean and unsentimental prose takes us into the rough streets of Omaha’s River Ward at the end of the First World War. Wheeler skillfully wields historical facts and imagination to give life to immigrants and the sons of immigrants as they are swept up in American ways—from baseball and election politics to the tragic lynching of a black man named Will Brown. This is a book whose characters and scenes will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.” —Mary Helen Stefaniak, author of The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia
“In this beautifully written debut novel, Ted Wheeler takes us back to a crossroads in American history, a time full of the innocence of our childhood when the joys of simple pleasures were beginning to be tainted by the growing awareness of a darkness at the core of the American Dream. Set in Omaha, the contradictions at the heart of those living in the heartland are tested by the foreboding shadows of racism and hatred that finally explode into a lynching of a black man in downtown while white crowds look on. How could the good people of Nebraska have committed and tolerated such a brutal act? Wheeler’s novel explores the world that created this terrible moment, and the aftermath that continues to punish a city known for having rigid discrimination and oppression to this day. Indeed, this is a novel for our time as we collectively face an uncertain future and ask ourselves how the daily shootings and injustices can be stopped. Wheeler possesses a powerful voice that reminds us that wrong doesn’t become merely historical; it lives forever, no matter how hard we try to erase the memory. Readers will learn from reading this novel, experience empathy, and perhaps read the daily news with greater compassion. I recommend this novel be read and reread.” —Jonis Agee, author of The Bones of Paradise
About the Author
Theodore Wheeler is a reporter who covers civil law and politics in Omaha, where he lives with his wife and their two daughters. His fiction has been featured in Best New American Voices, New Stories from the Midwest, the Southern Review, the Kenyon Review, and Boulevard and received special mention in a Pushcart Prize anthology. A graduate of the MFA program at Creighton University, Wheeler was a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany; a resident of the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City; and a winner of the Marianne Russo Award from the Key West Literary Seminar. He is the author of Bad Faith, a collection of short fiction. Kings of Broken Things is his first novel.
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