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Insurrections: Stories

by Rion Amilcar Scott

Availablepaperback$19.95 978-0-8131-7440-2
Availablecloth$24.95 978-0-8131-6818-0
Availableepub$24.95 978-0-8131-6819-7
Availableweb pdf$24.95 978-0-8131-6820-3
The University Press of Kentucky New Poetry and Prose Series
208 pages  Pubdate:   6 x 9  

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LISTEN: Rion Amilcar Scott chats with the Read More Podcast on why he wanted to show class tensions in the Black community, the role his dad played in his writing the book, why one of his stories wouldn't exist without the failed War on Drugs, and how he went from a "boring" title to Insurrections. | LISTEN ONLINE HERE.

LISTEN: Rion Amilcar Scott chats with the Kojo Nnamdi Show on how the Washington DC area helped inspire Insurrections. | LISTEN ONLINE HERE.

LISTEN: Rion Amilcar Scott chats with WUKY - The Art Beat about his PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize-nominated short story collection Insurrections. | LISTEN ONLINE HERE.

LISTEN: Rion Amilcar Scott chats with The Other 51 podcast about the Broadway hit “Hamilton”, James Baldwin, and his book Insurrections.| LISTEN ONLINE HERE

A suicidal father looks to an older neighbor—and the Cookie Monster—for salvation and sanctuary as his life begins to unravel. A man seeking to save his estranged, drug-addicted brother from the city’s underbelly confronts his own mortality. A chess match between a girl and her father turns into a master class about life, self-realization, and pride: “Now hold on little girl. . . . Chess is like real life. The white pieces go first so they got an advantage over the black pieces.”

These are just a few glimpses into the world of the residents of the fictional town of Cross River, Maryland, a largely black settlement founded in 1807 after the only successful slave revolt in the United States. Raw, edgy, and unrelenting yet infused with forgiveness, redemption, and humor, the stories in this collection explore characters suffering the quiet tragedies of everyday life and fighting for survival.

In Insurrections, Rion Amilcar Scott’s lyrical prose authentically portrays individuals growing up and growing old in an African American community. Writing with a delivery and dialect that are intense and unapologetically current, Scott presents characters who dare to make their own choices—choices of kindness or cruelty—in the depths of darkness and hopelessness. Although Cross River’s residents may be halted or deterred in their search for fulfillment, their spirits remain resilient—always evolving and constantly moving.

Rion Amilcar Scott teaches English at Bowie State University. He earned an MFA at George Mason University, where he won both the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award and a Completion Fellowship. His work has appeared in publications such as the Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, PANK, The Rumpus, Fiction International, the Washington City Paper, The Toast, and Confrontation.

By turns heartbreaking, darkly funny, and compelling, Insurrections delivers a panorama of modern life within a close-knit community, and the way the present day can be influenced by past histories, past generations. Scott, a lecturer at Bowie State, is a writer you should be reading, and this book serves as a nice entry point for first-timers. -- The Millions

Sad, violent, frustrating stories told in high-energy language, creating a very real imaginary world. -- Kirkus

These are powerful stories of trying to overcome the odds when the odds are so stacked against you. [It] is a group of stories that need to be told. -- Coffee and Books

The writing of Insurrections is energetic and musical—fully inhabiting a diverse array of storytelling styles. Scott, it appears, has a knack for finding the best structure to
organically fit the details of the plot. The stories are replete with vivid, visceral descriptions of action and character. Scott is able to get into the heads of his characters and bring them to life as real, complicated souls. -- The Root

Scott’s fiction is at once incredibly precise, rooted in contemporary reality, and dreamy, magical, uncertain. . . . This book is the finest collection of short stories I have read in a very long time, and Scott is a major new voice. You can’t afford to miss him. -- Brooklyn Magazine

Scott is an impressive ventriloquist, adopting a number of disparate narrative voices over the course of the book. He offers many brilliant lines . . . and writes about race, fatherhood, lust, and envy with estimable candor. -- The Millions

It was so refreshing to read stories that feature African-American men and boys as fully formed characters with hopes, dreams, and fears without relying on tired stereotypes and caricatures. -- Education Week

As a whole, Scott's stories are well-crafted and aspects of them linger long after reading. To his credit, Scott engages the reader in circumstances that range from recognizable to foreign to almost inconceivable. These are stories of people constantly at odds, fighting to find their way. It's not a new premise, but Scott's delivery is well worth the trip. -- Malcolm Avenue Review

A satisfying and moving collection of stories about those up against it. Written with grace and complexity with rich characters and brutality drawn bare, this collection is recommended for those who don't thrive on Hollywood endings. -- Malcolm Avenue Review

In Scott’s debut collection, Insurrections, teachers, barbers, and drug dealers ply their trades in the storefronts, schools, and streets of the D.C.-adjacent stomping ground, but it is the private lives of Cross Riverians that make up the book’s beautiful beating heart. -- Washington City Paper

An auspicious debut. -- Largehearted Boy

Insurrections is not whispering lovingly to us with each turn of the page; it is screaming to be acknowledged—screaming for change. -- Santa Fe Writers Project Quarterly

In Scott’s stories the ordinary becomes legend, and anything that self-righteously thinks itself sacred is taken down a few notches. -- Berfrois

Scott's lyrical prose authentically portrays individuals growing up and growing old in an African American community. Writing with a delivery and dialect that are intense and unapologetically current, Scott presents characters who dare to make their own choices—choices of kindness or cruelty—in the depths of darkness and hopelessness. -- Read in Colour

Quite a revelation. -- Rigoberto González, author of Unpeopled Eden and Men Without Bliss

Amilcar Scott takes a real joy in language, and his book has a stop-start flow that is delightful in its piquancy, possibly more so than a purely elegant lyrical text. Sounds, voices and the oral tradition are important, and quotes are sampled from pop culture, song lyrics, slang and sacred texts. -- Berfrois

A wildly impressive and ambitious collection of stories, Rion Amilcar Scott's Insurrections affirms that it can be the smallest human choices —of tenderness, kindness, and cruelty, that make our people, and our world, what it is. -- Lisa Williams, author of Gazelle in the House

Scott is a deeply talented writer who has managed that most precarious of fusions while dealing with important subject matter: a recognition of life’s complexity combined with writing that sings. -- Courtney Brkic, author of The First Rule of Swimming

The characters of Insurrections are confronted with the near impossible task of escaping the long shadow of memory. What binds these tales of family rupture and thwarted hopes is a deep empathy, which courses through the pages like a powerful current. Rion Amilcar Scott is the real deal: a writer with vision, wit, intelligence, and fierce feeling. -- Ravi Mangla, author of Understudies

Rion Amilcar Scott’s Insurrections is a rich and vibrant collection of short stories about the citizens of the fictional town Cross River, Maryland. Like the tales of old, these stories speak with a resonant truth, an irrefutable wisdom. And they stay with you because every word comes from the author’s humor and from his humanity. This is a masterful debut, an important and necessary contribution to American letters. -- Jeffery Renard Allen, author of the novels Song of the Shank and Rails Under My Back

Rion Amilcar Scott's Insurrections announces an urgent, clarion new voice in the American short story. This is a collection bursting at the seams with voice, with lexicon and ache, with the beating heart of a broad chorus on a confined canvas. It brings to mind a wide range of our finest story writers, past and present: Flannery O'Connor and Edward P Jones, Junot Diaz and even David Foster Wallace. Read this book. Read it slowly, like it deserves, but read it right now, and savor it. -- Daniel Torday, author of The Last Flight of Poxl West

Winner, 2017 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction