book cover of The Graybar Hotel
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The Graybar Hotel

(2017)
A collection of stories by

 
 
In this “toughly courageous, unflinching, and unapologetic” (O, The Oprah Magazine) debut collection, Curtis Dawkins, an MFA graduate and convicted murderer serving life without parole, “takes us inside the worlds of prison and prisoners with stories that dazzle with their humor and insight, even as they describe a harsh and barren existence” (Publishers Weekly).

In Curtis Dawkins’s first short story collection, longlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal, he offers a window into prison life through the eyes of his narrators and their cellmates. Dawkins reveals the idiosyncrasies, tedium, and desperation of long-term incarceration—he describes men who struggle to keep their souls alive despite the challenges they face.

In “A Human Number,” a man collect-calls strangers just to hear the sounds of the outside world. In “573543,” an inmate recalls his descent into addiction as his prison softball team gears up for an annual tournament. In “Leche Quemada,” an inmate is released and finds freedom to be complex and baffling. Dawkins’s stories are funny and sad, filled with unforgettable detail—the barter system based on calligraphy-ink tattoos, handmade cards, and cigarettes; a single dandelion smuggled in from the rec yard; candy made from powdered milk, water, sugar, and hot sauce. His characters are nuanced and sympathetic, despite their obvious flaws.

The Graybar Hotel is “well-written and worth reading for Dawkins’s craft and insight, but it’s also an occasion to consider an industry that has little to do with rehabilitation, and that makes it nearly impossible for its participants to recuperate their lives” (Chicago Tribune). Dawkins is an extraordinary writer with a knack for metaphor who gives voice to the experience of perhaps the most overlooked members of our society. “His prison stories are insightful and well written, and they ring true. Dawkins possesses the acquired wisdom of a man who’s been there, done that and, unfortunately, is staying there” (Houston Chronicle).

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"There is a current of electricity running through this book, a shocking voltage of truth. What an authentic and rare book The Graybar Hotel is." - Nickolas Butler

"The stories in The Graybar Hotel are astonishing, clever and true. It's the best collection I've read in a long, long time." - Roddy Doyle

"In The Graybar Hotel, Curtis Dawkins brings the contemporary short story at its best into the shadowy world of America at its worst, behind the bars of its overpopulated and ubiquitous prisons. These brilliantly crafted stories - with their formal inventiveness, savory dialogue, meticulous detail, and succinctly compassionate portraiture - are as much a manual in how to write original short fiction as in how to think about prisons." - Jaimy Gordon

"Curtis Dawkins draws from his direct experience to paint a picture of jailhouse life in all its grimness. This book will scare you straight--or should. But within their cages, Dawkins' prisoners dream--of criminal schemes, drugs, women--and an American world outside the walls. Their avid fantasies burn with a furious light against the bleak institutional background, exploding with ingenuity, pathos and rebellion. In many cases, these outsiders are, like Dawkins himself, artists." - Atticus Lish


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Used availability for Curtis Dawkins's The Graybar Hotel

Hardback Editions

July 2017 : UK Hardback
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Title: The Graybar Hotel
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
ISBN: 1-78689-111-5 / 978-1-78689-111-2 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon UK   


July 2017 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
ISBN: 1-5011-6229-2 / 978-1-5011-6229-9 (USA edition)
Publisher: Scribner
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

July 2018 : UK Paperback
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Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
ISBN: 1-78689-113-1 / 978-1-78689-113-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


May 2018 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
ISBN: 1-5011-6230-6 / 978-1-5011-6230-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Scribner
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Audio Editions

July 2017 : USA Audio edition
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Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Availability: Amazon   


July 2017 : Australia Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Availability: Amazon AU   


July 2017 : Canada Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Availability: Amazon CA   


July 2017 : UK Audio edition
thumb

Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

July 2017 : Canada, UK Kindle edition
thumb

Title: The Graybar Hotel
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
Publisher: Canongate Books
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


July 2017 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
thumb

Title: The Graybar Hotel: Stories
Author(s): Curtis Dawkins
Publisher: Scribner
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA