hardcover: 288 pages
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace
A Spring 2017 B&N Discover Great New Writers Selection
Helen Moran is thirty-two years old, single, childless, college educated, and partially employed as a guardian of troubled young people in New York. She is accepting a furniture delivery in her shared studio apartment when her uncle calls to break the news: Helen’s adoptive brother is dead.
According to the Internet, there are six possible reasons why her brother might have killed himself. But Helen knows better: she knows that six reasons is only shorthand for ”the abyss.” Helen also knows that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into his death, so she purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor, Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive.
A bleakly comic tour de force that’s by turns poignant, uproariously funny, and viscerally unsettling, this debut novel has shades of Bernhard, Beckett, and Bowles – and it announces the singular voice of Patty Yumi Cottrell.
Praise for Sorry to Disrupt the Peace:
“Patty Yumi Cottrell’s prose does so many of my favorite things—some too subtle to talk about without spoiling, but one thing I have to mention is the way in which her heroine’s investigation of a suicide draws the reader right into the heart of this wonderfully spiky hedgehog of a book and then elbows us yet further along into what is ultimately a tremendously moving act of imagination.”
—Helen Oyeyemi, author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
“Helen’s foggy view of reality is a dark, dark comedic well, and debut novelist Cottrell tells her story with gutsy style, glowing sentences, and true feeling.”
—Annie Bostrom, Booklist
“In Cottrell’s stellar debut novel, 32-year-old Helen is in her Manhattan apartment when she receives a call that her adoptive brother has killed himself… The real attraction here is Helen: her perspective ranges from sharp (New York is ‘a city so rich it funds poetry’) to askew (‘People who call themselves photographers are fake… the real charlatans of our time. Behind a photo is a perfectly fake person, scrubbed of all flaws, dead inside’) to unhinged (her adoptive parents’ grieving takes the physical form of a middle-aged European man who walks around the house and helps himself to pizza). Cottrell gives Helen the impossible task of understanding what would drive another person to suicide, and the result is complex and mysterious, yet, in the end, deeply human and empathetic.”
—Publishers Weekly, (starred)
Patty Yumi Cottrell’s work has appeared in BOMB, Gulf Coast, and Black Warrior Review, among other places. She lives in Los Angeles.