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Among the Dead and Dreaming

a novel

Samuel Ligon

A dark love story of damaged people brought together by present tragedy, past violence, and desperation. 

Nikki has spent her life running from her abusive mother and the violent boyfriend she killed years ago, and now from his brother, Burke, just released from prison. Burke doesn’t know yet how his brother died, but he’s obsessed with finding Nikki and claiming her—and her daughter—as his own. Now she’s run out of room to run.

Ligon handles this latticework with impressive fluidity and dramatic momentum, the disparate voices lacing the novel with the melancholy of aborted and fractured love, whether between lovers or between children and their parents. When a psychiatrist tells Mark that “the sick and dying live in a world the healthy can’t inhabit or comprehend,” we grasp that divide at the same time we question whether anyone in this world is healthy.
New York Times Book Review

Ligon is able to move between characters—the living, the dead, the barely-there, the unborn—and inhabit each voice with a pace and precision that makes the prose move, too. He begins by conducting the spare moments before a motorcycle crash through the voice of one of its pregnant victims, and in the span of three pages, orchestrates the thought-process of four other characters, including the unborn baby, Isabelle, whose solitary “Oh” delivers the single biggest understatement of the book, a caustic pause before we become submerged in a narrative of returns and remunerations, a postmodern ghost story set in New York City.
The Brooklyn Rail
(the complete Review)

 "Ligon has pulled off an intricately interwoven novel that is both a gripping page-turner and also a deeply felt exploration of the most piercing kinds of pain."
New York Journal of Books

“Unsettling.... Ligon’s is a convincing presentation of human nature. Nikki laments at one point, “We’d end up getting married … and I would shrink a little every year and lose pieces of myself until there’d be nothing left. But wasn’t that what happened to everyone?” Fear is what’s driven Nikki in the past, and now her past has caught up with her with a vengeance.”
—Foreword Reviews
 

“A masterful exhibition in storytelling; a breathless page-turner. Ligon drives his narrative like a formula one racer. Buckle your seatbelts and get ready for a thrilling ride.”
—Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
 

“Part meditation on modern love’s dark and often unexamined underbelly, part can’t-put-it-down-even-for-a-dinner-break thriller, this novel contains one of the most convincingly and complicatedly terrifying fictional characters I have run into.”
—Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
 

“A wildly original love story, a ghost story, a tense and suspenseful story in which the wickedly talented Ligon channels voices—of the lost, the longing, and the damned.”
—Jess Walter, author of We Live in Water
 

Praise for Safe in Heaven Dead 

“Ligon is firmly in control, laying out the elements of the story like the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle.”
New York Times Book Review
 

“A superbly convincing first novel….An expertly motivated debut.”
Kirkus (starred)
 

“This debut novel instantly seizes and holds the imagination. Few readers will remain unmoved by the agonizing questions that drive the story, and the tragedy with which the book begins and ends.”
Publishers Weekly
 

“Occasionally, the good novels are the ones that make us squirm, and Safe in Heaven Dead is a very good novel.”
Fort Worth Star Telegram
 

“Fully imagined and fluent, Safe in Heaven Dead is a strong and promising debut.”
Stewart O’Nan
 

“That rare novel which envelopes us completely.”
David Abrams, January Magazine
 

“Ligon’s a keen analyst of marital discord and writes beautifully.”
Detroit Free Press
 

“One of the best five books of the year.”
Las Vegas Mercury
 

“An incredible first novel. It disturbs, stuns, and unsettles all things. Read it.”
Providence Journal Bulletin
 

 

About the Author

Samuel Ligon is the author of Wonderland (spring 2016), Drift and Swerve (Autumn House 2009) and Safe in Heaven Dead (HarperCollins 2003). His stories have appeared in more than 20 literary journals. He teaches at Eastern Washington University's Inland Northwest Center for Writers, and is the editor of the literary journal Willow Springs. He will be touring through 22 cities in 2016, with a focus on the northwest and the northeast.  

Among the Dead and Dreaming • Samuel Ligon

234 pages • ISBN 978-1-935248-78-1 • Trade paperback, $16.95 • e-Book available • April 2016

Published by Leapfrog Press LLC • www.leapfrogpress.com

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution • www.cbsd.com

Among the Dead

 

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