How are our lives shaped by the difficult choices of our parents and even grandparents? How will our own choices direct the future for our children? Following generations of one family across nearly a century, each of Andrea Lewis’s intertwined, engaging short stories evokes an intense sense of place and time, from New Orleans in 1895 to Grand Isle, Louisiana, during the hurricane of 1901 and on to London during the Olympic Games of 1948. The people in these ten vivid tales face tragedy and real-world catastrophic events—war, hurricanes, the Great Depression, racial tension—in their pursuit of love, family, and belonging. Each character struggles to discover and preserve his or her identity and dreams while grappling with the expectations of family and culture and trying to cope with loss. Some succeed, some compromise, and some fail, but all have a traceable impact on a story to come.
What My Last Man Did was selected by Michael Martone as the winner of the 2016 IR / IU Press Blue Light Books Prize, awarded on alternating years to a short story or poetry collection of outstanding merit. To learn more about the prize, please click here.
Praise for What My Last Man Did
"What My Last Man Did is a quiet jewel, a jazz riff emanating from New Orleans, Galveston, and Las Cruces, a stunning debut. The language is biting, lyrical, cruel, funny, erotic, and laced with wit. Beginning with the gorgeous and formidable Queen Juliette, owner of an 1895 New Orleans brothel and moving on to Hannah Delgado's 1970s love affair with her boss, the people of these interconnected stories are entangled by love—or is it lust?—that is tender, ferocious, illicit, at times illegal, compulsive, and compelling. What My Last Man Did is mesmerizing from the first page to the last." —Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?
"Andrea Lewis’s linked stories about Hannah Delgado and her family’s “frayed skein of love” may make you fall in love with both a new writer and the fictional family she’s created. Lewis’s characters are funny and flawed and infuriating, but also loyal and trying as hard as they can to be good. Her prose is witty and full of grace and talks about things that matter. This book, I hope, is only the first of many by this wise and generous author." —Rebecca Brown, author of American Romances
"Iris and Hannah Delgado are as memorable and winning a pair of sisters as I have come across in contemporary literature. With compassion, raucous good humor, and razor sharp details, this collection walks backward in time into the deep history of the sisters' eccentric Texas family." —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted