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The King of Limbo: Stories

"Adrianne Harun manipulates darkness and light, humor and pathos, the familiar and the strange, managing both to reveal the peculiarity at the heart of the commonplace and to transform the extraordinary into something inevitable and real." — Alice McDermott

"Alone. Why had no one ever told her how beautiful the night could be? Josie knew the thickened blind of predawn, how it crept away like the tides and allowed the day to emerge. Now she felt the weight of light and how its absence sweetened the unkempt ruins by the river. She learned how the world grows plump and vague when silence descends." — from "A Closed Sea," in The King of Limbo


Welcome to a world ripe with mystery and magic. Welcome to worlds both seen and unseen, simple and surreal. Welcome to The King of Limbo.

In Adrianne Harun's imaginative debut collection, readers are treated to ten varied tales united by themes of loss and loneliness, of characters longing for connection and kindness, seeking sustenance.

Readers and reviewers alike have responded to Harun's carefully created worlds. The Chicago Tribune declares that "Harun's greatest achievement, perhaps, is that each story comprises its own separate world . . . She is clearly interested in exploring the emotional lives of her characters and how they survive extreme circumstances."

• In "Accidents," a woman, devastated by the loss of her newborn child, crashes her car into an elderly couple's home, where she finds solace.
• In "The Eighth Sleeper of Ephesus," a reclusive widower reaches out to the world by writing fiery letters to his estranged son's local newspaper.
• In the title story, a disenchanted six-year-old boy deals with his despair over his separated parents' relationship by retreating into a world of fantasy.

Indeed, all of Harun's characters are caught in limbo between reality and their dreams.

These finely crafted, introspective narratives, peopled with drifters and waitresses, horse trainers and housewives, display Harun's talent for viewing the world from myriad angles. Whether set in a coastal town in the Pacific Northwest or in a boarding school in Connecticut, these stories map physical and emotional landscapes with equal accuracy and eloquence.

The King of Limbo establishes Adrianne Harun as a writer to watch. As Richard Russo raves, she "possesses the rare ability to see the world at an odd tilt that makes everything appear new, at times even to shimmer."

About the Author

Adrianne Harun has published stories in numerous journals, including Story, where she won first place in the annual short-short competition. She has received a Nelson Algren Award from the Chicago Tribune and a MacDowell Fellowship. Harun lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

Praise for The King of Limbo

"In The King of Limbo, Adrianne Harun writes beautifully of the world we thought we knew, showing it to us from unexpected angles, and introduces us to her own unmistakable world. Her fierce, delightful stories are like no one else's. This is an enthralling collection." — Margot Livesey

"Adrianne Harun's stories are elegant, mysterious, and polished. They balance perfectly on the edge between ordinary life and dreams. Her landscapes are places you would love to visit, and her characters, be they hopeful, grieving, or disquieted, are rendered with great sympathy. The King of Limbo is a wonderful work of the imagination." — Jean Thompson

"Adrianne Harun's stories are elegant, funny, and well designed." — Charles Baxter

"These stories surprise at first, literary and wild, and then get funny, and then you read them for the pleasure alone. We may properly expect things of Adrianne Harun." — Padgett Powell

"These uprooted lives read like dreamscapes spun from fierce realities, in prose radiating intelligence, panache, and wild humor." — O, The Oprah Magazine

"A most impressive debut . . . These stories sparkle like expertly cut gems." — Denver Post

"The potential that Harun reveals in this collection is immense." — Publishers Weekly

"A diverse collection . . . These stories succeed as quirky examples of how strange the world looks to people who are not at home in it." — New York Times Book Review

"Harun is a witty, sure-handed writer whose work shines with real originality." — Baltimore Sun

"[Harun] is capable of rendering genuinely moving moments and creating multilayered stories that prove she is a writer worth watching." — Chicago Tribune

"Compelling . . . interesting and edgy . . . Harun approaches loneliness from unexpected angles." — San Diego Union-Tribune

"Harun's tales occupy an alluring dark dimension, one that is both mystical and also eminently recognizable, one where unresolved problems — and especially paradoxes — are the norm." — Newsday

"Harun's penchant for taking a bizarre premise and filling it in with persuasive if eccentric details is reminiscent, here and there, of Flannery O'Connor. Unusual and sophisticated work from a gifted newcomer who has the skills to become an equally promising novelist." — Kirkus Reviews (starred)

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