National Book Award-winning Novelist
Author of Lord of Misrule
"Moody, poetic, darkly funny prose." —Time
"Gordon’s language is so textured that her pages seem three-dimensional." —LA Times
Jaimy Gordon is the author of six books, most recently the National Book Award-winning novel Lord of Misrule (McPherson & Co, 2010), set in the world of small-time West Virginia horse racing. The novel was also a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist, won the Dr. Tony Ryan Award for the year’s best book about horse racing, and has been longlisted for coveted Orange Prize for Fiction. Gordon’s novel She Drove Without Stopping (Algonquin, 1990) was awarded an Academy-Institute Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Bogeywoman (2000) was named an LA Times Best Book of the year. Shamp of the City-Solo, her first novel, has long been considered an underground classic by her fans. Her short story “A Night’s Work,” which shares several characters with Lord of Misrule, appeared in the Best American Short Stories 1995. Her short fiction, poems, essays, and translations have appeared in the Colorado Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry International, and many other journals.
Gordon has been awarded fellowships from both the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She currently teaches at Western Michigan University and the Prague Summer Program for Writers. Her fiction (along with that of three other writers) was the subject of an international conference, Imagination Alive Imagine, in Paris in 2001.
Because of its very small initial print run, Lord of Misrule, which was at the time relatively unknown, was considered a dark horse to win the National Book Award; upon the announcement, Gordon told the audience “I’m totally unprepared, and I’m totally surprised.” However, as the New York Times’ Janet Maslin wrote, “this novel is so assured, exotic and uncategorizable, with such an unlikely provenance, that it arrives as an incontrovertible winner, a bona fide bolt from the blue.”
Gordon's winning of the National Book award was recognized by Jewish Women's Archive as a top 10 moment for Jewish women for the year. Inspired in part by her mother’s family household—where shabbos ended in a poker game and all the men were horse players—Gordon’s characters, in the words of The Jewish Week, "speak...to a current model of Jewishness, where tired stereotypes are...upended, and, like a broken-down racehorse, finally useless.
About LORD OF MISRULE (2010)
“Lord of Misrule is filled with memorable characters who exist on the fringe, making up a whole world." —Los Angeles Times
At the rock-bottom end of the sport of kings sits the ruthless and often violent world of cheap horse racing, where trainers and jockeys, grooms and hotwalkers, loan sharks and touts all struggle to take an edge, or prove their luck, or just survive. Equal parts Nathanael West, Damon Runyon and Eudora Welty, Lord of Misrule follows five characters -- scarred and lonely dreamers in the American grain -- through a year and four races at Indian Mound Downs, downriver from Wheeling, West Virginia. Horseman Tommy Hansel has a scheme to rescue his failing stable: He'll ship four unknown but ready horses to Indian Mound Downs, run them in cheap claiming races at long odds, and then get out fast before anyone notices. The problem is, at this rundown riverfront half-mile racetrack in the Northern Panhandle, everyone notices--veteran groom Medicine Ed, Kidstuff the blacksmith, old lady "gyp" Deucey Gifford, stall superintendent Suitcase Smithers, eventually even the ruled-off "racetrack financier" Two-Tie and the ominous leading trainer, Joe Dale Bigg. But no one bothers to factor in Tommy Hansel's go-fer girlfriend, Maggie Koderer. Like the beautiful, used-up, tragic horses she comes to love, Maggie has just enough heart to wire everyone's flagging hopes back to the source of all luck.