Kentucky poet Rebecca Gayle Howell's second book won the 2016 Sexton Prize for Poetry and has remained on the Small Press Distribution's bestseller list since it debuted. The poems in this collection will leave you thirsty as you consider the ramifications of our choices, particularly in relation to social class and the American dream. In the end, you'll wonder what it takes to survive, and to thrive, and you'll question the difference between the two. Poet Ross Gay says American Purgatory makes him consider "the ways our almost (but not quite) incalculably extractive lives, born of our extractive imaginations, will wither every last thing to dust if we don't confront them. And it makes me wonder how we will confront them. This book feels like one of the ways."
Poetry. Winner of the 2016 Sexton Prize for Poetry (selected by Don Share of Poetry magazine), AMERICAN PURGATORY is a story of the working class, a dystopia set in a near-future United States marked by severe drought, herbicidal warfare, and a totalitarian climate of poverty. This purgatory is populated by those who believe that if they work hard enough, they will be set free. Against this backdrop, three unlikely characters begin a journey that will take them away from work, belief, and even each other, until the protagonist uncovers a truth about this place that indeed sets her free. Equal parts Dante and Cormac McCarthy, AMERICAN PURGATORY is a coming-of-age for capitalism written in the decade of tea-party terror.