PEN America Literary Awards longlist

Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize winner

In these nine stories, Marian Crotty inhabits the lives of people searching for human connection. Her characters, most often young women, are honest, troubled, and filled with longing. In the title story, a young woman begins a job on a construction site after leaving an abusive marriage. In “Crazy for You,” two girls spy on a neighbor’s sex life, while their own sexuality hovers in the distance. In “A Real Marriage,” a college student marries a boyfriend to help him stay in the United States. In “The Fourth Fattest Girl at Cutting Horse Ranch,” the daily life of a residential treatment center for eating disorders is disrupted by the arrival of a celebrity. The stories are set in Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the Persian Gulf, and often touch on themes of addiction, class, sexuality, and gender. What Counts as Love is a poignant, often funny collection that asks us to take it and its characters seriously.

“Crotty’s impressive debut collection is somehow both varied and cohesive. These 10 sublime stories are reminiscent of Bobbie Ann Mason and Ann Beattie, thoroughly surprising and memorable.”—Publishers Weekly starred review
“With heartrending clarity, Marian Crotty explores sexuality, abuse, dependency, endless hope, and other facets of love. What Counts as Love brilliantly examines where the seams of people’s lives begin to fray, leaving a poignant ellipsis for how they’ll be remade.”—Foreword Reviews
“With sensual, brave, and wonderfully evocative prose, Marian Crotty explores the seemingly tattered nature of love, taking us deeply into the varied lives of her characters and making us care for them all. They are as alive for me as people I know and root for, and now I’m rooting for Marian Crotty, a compelling and important new voice among us. What Counts as Love is a superb and truly moving collection.”—Andre Dubus III, judge, John Simmons Short Fiction Award 
“Marian Crotty’s bold, fresh young voice is a welcome addition to the literary scene.”—Jennifer Egan, author, A Visit from the Goon Squad
“Marian Crotty’s stories are never imprecise. Instead, they bring us a world that is described exactly, down to the smallest details, and their headlong pace keeps us reading breathlessly. She writes about desperadoes of love, caught in moments when desperation may require uncommon bravery. I found this book to be truthful and amazing. It is a beautiful collection.”—Charles Baxter
“In this riveting debut, Marian Crotty’s characters illuminate the improbably beautiful space between knowing exactly what’s wrong and being powerless to fix it.”—Alicia Erian, author, The Brutal Language of Love 

2017 John Simmons Short Fiction Award

2018 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction

2018 PEN America Literary Awards longlist


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Publication Details

Publication Date
134 pages
Trim size
5 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches