The stories in The Man in the Banana Trees take place in the past, present, and future—from the American Gulf South to the orbit around Jupiter. We meet teachers and students, ghosts and aliens. An ice cream consultant in the year 2036 predicts a devastating flavor trend and a disgruntled New England waiter investigates a mysterious tanker crash. Although wildly varied in setting, length, and genre, a thread of the fantastic unites these stories, as characters struggle to understand that thing lurking at the edge of their perception: something sinister, or maybe—miraculous.

The Man in the Banana Trees kicks ass. Every story is a surprise. The dexterity of Marguerite Sheffer’s prose is absolutely awe-inspiring. By turns heartbreaking and brilliant, Sheffer’s stories remind one of George Saunders and Amy Hempel in their playfulness and through their special eye for tragedy.”—Jamil Jan Kochai, judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award

The Man in the Banana Trees is a truly remarkable work of literary art and marks the arrival of an absolutely brilliant new storyteller. Marguerite Sheffer is an endlessly inventive writer, but she’s also a philosopher capable of drawing metaphor and meaning from the lives of ordinary people trapped in extraordinary circumstances. Following the path of acclaimed writers like Borges, Márquez, Link, Machado, and Keegan, Sheffer promises to provide remarkable stories for many years to come.”—Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author, The American Daughters

“A collection that writes its own miraculous language for the meaning of art and the question of our moral obligation to others. The range here dazzles—a contemporary ballet stage, a nineteenth-century artists’ colony, a ship full of ghosts, a life stalked by grief in the form of a virtual-reality tiger—and all these pictures are knit into a single breathtaking view by a sensibility that’s both empathetic and unyieldingly keen. The Man in the Banana Trees is a blaze of light, brilliant enough to illuminate not only its characters’ interior lives but also the reader’s own.”—Clare Beams, author, The Garden

“Rarely have I come across ideas as original, prose as exquisite, and hearts as bared on the page as those found in this collection. I am blown away by its achievement. Marguerite Sheffer is extraordinary.”—Julia Phillips, author, Bear

“Haunting and hilarious, horrifying and heartwarming, this is short story gold. Marguerite Sheffer is the alchemist, reimagining and transmuting the form.”—John Vercher, author, Devil is Fine

The Man in the Banana Trees is magnificent. Marguerite Sheffer entrances with stories that are strange, unexpected, and full of imaginative magic. These stories are unbound by time, leaping from a romantically and intellectually entangled trio of researchers in 1960s England who discover the first pulsars to a commodore in purgatory, forced to view his descendants from the belly of his ship. By slanting our reality, Sheffer’s stories ask us to glance anew at our world. Brimming with life, love, loss, and longing.”—Crystal Hana Kim, author, The Stone Home

“The unique blend of stories in Sheffer’s collection gives new insight into our world. She uses genre and setting to explore the unfamiliar and push readers into using a mirror to see our reality in them. I never knew what to expect from story to story. Sheffer kept me on my toes and each story felt like the story of the collection. She outdid herself time and time again.”—Adam Vitcavage, a Debutiful “Most Anticipated Debut Book of 2024”

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Publication Details

Publication Date
160 pages
Trim size
5.5 x 8.25 inches