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About Michelle Bailat-Jones
Her fiction, poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in a number of journals, including The Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, The View from Here, Hayden's Ferry Review, the Quarterly Conversation, PANK, Spolia Mag, Two Serious Ladies, Cerise Press and The Atticus Review.
She has translated two novels by the acclaimed Swiss author, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz, Beauty on Earth and What if the Sun..., both published by Skomlin Press. Other translations include work from Julia Allard Daudet, Clarisse Francillon, Laure Mi-Hyun Croset, Claude Cahun and Céline Cerny.
She was born in Japan, grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and now lives in Switzerland.
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What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec's diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling.
Fog Island Mountains is the winner of the Christopher Doheny Award, which recognizes excellence in fiction or nonfiction on the topic of serious illness by a writer who has personally dealt or is dealing with life-threatening illness (either his or her own or that of a close relative or friend). The judges for the 2013 Christopher Doheny Award included acclaimed authors Dani Shapiro, Meghan O'Rourke, and Ann Hood.
"Michelle Bailat-Jones has written a stark, haunting novel that explores the binds of family, of marriage, and of mothering and being mothered. In the wake of Ella’s father’s death, what appears to be an ending is in fact the beginning of unraveling a life’s worth of mysteries, as well as what it means to forgive others and forgive oneself. This is a gorgeous, sea-drenched book of exceptional lyricism that drew me in from the very first page.”—Anne Valente, author of Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down
"Unfurled is a poignant novel about the chaos of life, and the mind and heart. Bailat-Jones writes with clarity, control, beauty, and a crystalline understanding of people—our fragility and strength, flaws and virtues, wounds and recovery. A wonderful accomplishment." —Ethel Rohan, author of The Weight of Him
For more than twenty years, Ella has learned to live without her mother, Maggie, who disappeared into a fog of mental illness when Ella turned ten. Despite this trauma, Ella has forged ahead, becoming a veterinarian, getting married, and most of all, developing a deep, trusting bond with her father, John, a ferry captain in Seattle.
Ella’s contented life is shattered when her father is hit by a car and killed. Going through his papers, she learns that her father maintained a secret relationship with her mother. The unsettling questions raised by her father’s death and her mother’s unexpected reappearance sends Ella on a journey to discover the truth about the woman who abandoned her and the man who raised her, a journey that threatens her marriage, her unborn child, and ultimately, her sanity.