The Big Moose Prize Winner


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ISBN: 978-1-62557-014-7

The Thirteenth Month

Publication Date: November 2019


Raised in a town that prizes poets above doctors and astronauts, the narrator of The Thirteenth Month is a constant reader, and it is through books – real and imagined — that he experiences the world, from the libraries of Dar es Salaam to the dead-end streets of Cleveland. While he believes he is being prepared to write himself, he is ultimately called to a different, less romantic task – helping his increasingly demented mother die.

Bruno Schulz described a thirteenth month as an unnatural time when “one may be touched by the divine finger of poetry.” Hamilton shows that touch to be both divine and troubling. Elegantly structured, The Thirteenth Month follows the elusive thread between the books we read, the actions we take and the people we become.


The Thirteenth Month is a multiverse of mirrors and infinite texts spanning the inevitable labyrinth that exists between a young man’s books and his reality. It belongs in the company of Borges, Pessoa and Schulz, the very writers Hamilton admires, all the while cleverly disguised as an Iowan’s bildungsroman. One reads this novel relishing its refined narrative pleasures as much as its intricate patterns and resonant allusions.

–Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen

The Thirteenth Month is a sui generis novel; with echoes of memoir, travelogue, bibliography, and kunstlerroman, it contains the research and lore of a great essay, the depth of a metaphysical poem, but the soul of a novel. The unruly child of Jonathan Safran Foer, Dave Eggers, and Grace Paley, Colin Hamilton topples the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction. Intelligent without pretension, worldly without condescension, Hamilton renders both scenes and mindscapes with equal mastery of the terrain. If you’ve ever wondered ‘where is the postmodern Montaigne?’, now you have your answer.

–Phong Nguyen, author of Pages from the Textbook of Alternative History and The Adventures of Joe Harper

Masterfully conceived and effortlessly rendered, Colin Hamilton has given us a delightfully enthralling and immersive account of the power of narrative to elucidate and transform the world. I relished every page.

–Matthew Vollmer, author of Future Missionaries of America and Permanent Exhibit

About the Author

Colin Hamilton

During his twenties, Colin Hamilton published poetry and essays in various journals, as well as a chapbook with the Kent State University Press. He then set that life aside for a while to build a career in public affairs, helping to develop the Minneapolis Central Library, the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, and affordable housing projects for low income artists in New York, New Orleans, Honolulu and elsewhere. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and two sons and works in public media. The Thirteenth Month is his first novel.

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