The Big Moose Prize Winner


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The Good Echo

Publication Date: November 2018


Participating in the 2024 PopSugar reading challenge? Read The Good Echo  for prompt number 27: a book where someone dies in the first chapter.

The Good Echo won the 2017 Big Moose Prize. Read an excerpt here.


Crisp, incisive, and quiet as an Ohio winter, this is a story of loss rendered in research and tucked away in rabbits’ mouths. A beautiful debut.

—Amelia Gray

Shena McAuliffe’s passionate devotion to scientific and historical inquiry amplifies and deepens the extravagant gifts of her playful imagination. With dazzling formal agility and rapturous attention to the pleasures of the senses, she delivers us to a world where memory is mutable and the dead speak, where it is possible to bear witness to other people’s secret fears and inchoate desires. The Good Echo shimmers with the radiance of a mother’s abiding love, a father’s healing mission, and a child’s joyful curiosity. Through the potent prismatic magic of storytelling, McAuliffe offers her readers grace beyond grief, a transcendent vision of the ways we might reinvent ourselves, transforming pain to purpose, surrendering to the blessings of our lives even as we navigate the paths of mourning.

—Melanie Rae Thon

From the first page of this novel, I was captivated. A boy, dead from an infected root canal performed by his father, says, “Death has made a storyteller of me.” When I read that, I put down the book, got coffee and a sandwich, and settled in for a day of enchantment. I was not disappointed.

What emerges is a story of love and loss, of how much we can ever know another, of blind spots, of intimacy, and the causes for and kinds of departures. The book has a magic all its own—the particular voice, humor, research, and medical history sustained me until that melancholy evening when I had to come to terms with knowing I would be reading the last sentence soon. A luminous, deeply moving debut: Shena McAuliffe is a rare talent. Sign me up for anything she writes.

—TaraShea Nesbit

“Harbingers make good stories,” we are told in Shena McAuliffe’s stunning debut novel, a young boy’s diseased tooth proving harbinger of a journey to the underworld and back, from Cleveland, Ohio to high in the Swiss Alps, from a Seminole village deep in the Everglades to Sleet Mute, Alaska, the Outer Hebrides, the Nile Delta, the Sudan, and, finally, home again to Ohio, every inch of the way traversed via the body’s darkest, most hidden places. The Good Echo is that rare thing, an encyclopedic novel by a woman; it’s the heart and not the brain, after all, according to the ancient Egyptians, that is the seat of the soul and of the intellect.

—Kathryn Davis

About the Author

Shena McAuliffe

Shena McAuliffe’s novel, The Good Echo (2018)won the Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize and the 2019 Balcones Fiction Prize. Her essay collection, Glass, Light, Electricity, was chosen by essayist Elena Passarello as the winner of the Permafrost Prize in Nonfiction and was published by University of Alaska Press in February 2020. Essays included in her collection have won a 2020 Pushcart Prize and have been listed as notable in Best American Essays of 2020, and her short stories have been published in Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor of Fiction at Union College, and is on the faculty of the Cornell College Low-Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. She earned her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, and an M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. As a writer, teacher, and reader she is particularly excited about innovative and hybrid narrative forms.

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