Chanelle Benz has published short stories in Guernica, Granta.com, Electric Literature, The American Reader, Fence and The Cupboard, and is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize. Her story collection The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead was published in 2017 by Ecco Press. It was named a Best Book of 2017 by The San Francisco Chronicle and one of Electric Literature’s 15 Best Short Story Collections of 2017. It was also longlisted for the 2018 PEN/Robert Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Story Prize. It won the 2018 Sergio Troncoso Award for Best First Fiction and the Philosophical Society of Texas 2018 Book Award for fiction. Her novel The Gone Dead was published by Ecco Press in June 2019. She currently lives in Memphis where she teaches at Rhodes College.
Billie James' inheritance isn't much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn't been back to the South since.
Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father's home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.
Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country.
“The greatest novels in my world are nearly all placed in Mississippi. The Gone Dead is one of the greatest novels ever placed Mississippi. The southern novel will never be the same after this book.”
— Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy