Dog Years

The nine stories in this promising collection explore the shifting concepts of health and wellness in the modern world, in the drab laboratories of disease researchers, sanitized operating rooms, and the picturesque mountains of Davos, Switzerland. The title story poignantly explores the minutiae of raising a terminally ill child, examining how illness can seep into even the smallest moments. In Firstborn," a Francophile accidentally invites the wrong niece on a much-needed vacation to Paris, only for the niece to abscond the night before the trip. An advocate for injured veterans wrestles with her affections for a general (a man with "no face") in "Hounds." A disgraced businesswoman enrolls in a cheap (and bizarrely effective) self-help regimen in "The Programª." Yancy deftly navigates the rarely seen backstage of the betterment industry, lightening the often heavy subject matter with welcome injections of irony and humor. The collection's cumulative effect is heartening and lasting.
Publishers Weekly
Winner of the 2016 Drue Heinz Literature Prize
Winner of the 2017 California Book Awards

WINNER OF THE 2016 DRUE HEINZ LITERATURE PRIZE
Winner of the 2017 California Book Awards, first fiction category

Many of these richly layered stories juxtapose the miracles of modern medicine against the inescapable frustrations of everyday life: awkward first dates, the indignities of air travel, and overwhelming megastore cereal aisles. In “Go Forth,” an aging couple attends a kidney transplant reunion, where donors and recipients collide with unexpected results; in “Hounds,” a woman who runs a facial reconstruction program for veterans nurses her dying dog while recounting the ways she has used sex as both a weapon and a salve; and in “Consider this Case,” a lonely fetal surgeon caring for his aesthete father must reconsider sexuality and the lengths people will go to have children.

Melissa Yancy’s personal experience in the milieus of hospitals, medicine, and family services infuse her narratives with a rare texture and gravity. Keenly observed, offering both sharp humor and humanity, these stories explore the ties that bind—both genetic and otherwise—and the fine line between the mundane and the maudlin. Whether the men or women that populate these pages are contending with illness, death, or parenthood, the real focus is on time and our inability to slow its progression, and to revel in those moments we can control.

about the author

Melissa Yancy

Melissa Yancy‘s short fiction has appeared in One Story, Glimmer Train, Zyzzyva, and other publications. She is the recipient of a 2016 NEA Literature Fellowship. Stories from Dog Years have won the Glimmer Train Fiction Open, the Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize, and received special mention in the Pushcart Prize. Yancy lives in Los Angeles where she works as a fundraiser for healthcare causes.

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Melissa Yancy