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Sadie Hoagland

Now Available!
November 2019
PB 978-1-949199-21-5
eBook 978-1-949199-22-2


American Grief in Four Stages is a collection of stories that imagines trauma as a space in which language fails us and narrative escapes us. These stories play with form and explore the impossibility of elegy and the inability of our culture to communicate grief, or sympathy, outside of cliché.

One narrator, for example, tries to understand her brother’s suicide by excavating his use of idioms. Other stories construe grief and trauma in much subtler ways—the passing of an era or of a daughter’s childhood, the seduction of a neighbor, the inability to have children. From a dinner party with Aztecs to an elderly shut-in’s recollection of her role in the Salem witch trials, these are stories that defy expectations and enrich the imagination. As a whole, this collection asks the reader to envisage the ways in which we suffer as both unbearably painful and unbearably American.


Cavalier Presentations of Heartbreaking News

Fucking Aztecs                                                                                                                              
In July Flags Are Everywhere                                                                                                       
Warning Signs                                                                                                                              
American Family Portrait, Clockwise from Upper Right                                                            
The Crossword                                                                                                                             
Frog Prince                                                                                                                                     
Six and Mittens                                                                                                                               
American Grief in Four Stages                                                                                                    
Extra Patriotic                                                                                                                              
Dementia, 1692                                                                                                                           
Time Just Isn’t That Simple                                                                                                     


Sadie Hoagland is an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the former editor of Quarterly West. Her work has appeared in Alice Blue Review, The Black Herald, Mikrokosmos Journal, South Dakota Review, Sakura Review, Grist, Oyez Review, Passages North, Five Points, The Fabulist, and elsewhere. Learn more at


"A captivating debut collection probes the trauma of being human. . . . assured, haunting, and deeply empathetic."
Kirkus (starred review)

"This terrifying, brave collection takes the sting out of what happens when the worst has already occurred. Even in their loss, its broken characters find ways to try and explain the unexplainable to themselves."
Foreword Reviews

“Sadie Hoagland’s stories are hard and bright as the twenty-first century, but with reflections that radiate into subtle chiaroscuro. She’s a startlingly fresh new writer; American Grief in Four Stages is a debut that will be remembered.”
Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls’ Rising

“Terrifyingly true and dangerously perceptive, Sadie Hoagland’s provocative fictions deliver us to moments of maximum chaos.”
Melanie Rae Thon, author of Silence and Song

“As riveting as short fiction gets.”
Jacob M. Appel, author of The Amazing Mr. Morality