The Hudson Prize Winner


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From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet

Publication Date: July 2011


Brutality, defeat, loneliness, and mournful longing haunt and ignite Finn’s collection with an assembly of unforgettable characters confronted by life-changing crises that force them to make impossible choices. Two brothers try to survive their father’s unexpected death by protecting their widowed mother from a drunken sexual vulture at a cousin’s wedding reception; the last orphan in an aging foster mother’s house tries to escape the abusive homophobia he faces in a rigidly-masculine Catholic high school; and a former quarry trucker, after thirty years in prison for murdering his sister’s rapist, is hired as a bouncer by a Greek immigrant who tries to save his failing restaurant by transforming it into a nightclub of seductive belly dancers.

Set in the gritty Rustbelt of Joliet, Illinois during the early 1980s, its rickety skyline of smokestacks, steeples, and rotting telephone poles, its abandoned houses, basements, quarries, and rail yards, Finn’s fictional world is breathtakingly constructed with prose that is both lush and crisp, imagistic, deeply evocative, and instantly memorable.


“Place is a character in Patrick Michael Finn’s fiction. It’s almost as if the setting, like the working-class characters who people his stories, has an ethnicity. The characters try to go on with their lives while the place broods and mourns around them. And all the while the narratives driven by credible psychological pressure grow increasingly threatening until the elegiac becomes rage. This is artful storytelling.”

-Stuart Dybek

Let us all hope that From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet is just the first of many story collections by Patrick Michael Finn. Populated with destitute strippers, damaged punks, polka lovers, bereaved widows, and the chronic unemployed amid lard factories and Catholic churches and gritty streets, these are the kind of stories that Balzac might have written if he had visited the economically ravaged American Midwest in the early 1980s. With the force of a massive heart attack brought on by a steady diet of corn-beef hash and Camel cigarettes and hard, hard living, Finn has put Joliet, Illinois on the literary map forever.  It is an awesome book by a great, great writer.”

-Donald Ray Pollock

About the Author

Patrick Michael Finn

Patrick Michael Finn was born in Joliet, Illinois and was raised there and in rural Southern California. His first book, the novella A Martyr for Suzy Kosasovich, was selected by Tom Barbash as winner of the Ruthanne Wiley Memorial Novella Competition and published by The Cleveland State University Poetry Center.  A winner of the AWP Intro Award, selected by Benjamin Alíre Sáenz, and the Third Coast Fiction Prize, judged by Stuart Dybek, Finn's stories have appeared in Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, Third Coast, Quarterly West, The Texas Review, The Clackamas Literary Review, Punk Planet, and Houghton Mifflin's The Best American Mystery Stories.  His fiction has also received citations in the Pushcart Prize and The Best American Short Stories. He lives in Arizona with his wife, poet Valerie Bandura, and their son James. Patrick's short story collection, From the Darkness Right Under Our Feet, won the 2009 Hudson Prize and was selected as a Best Book of 2011 in GQ Magazine.

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