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July 2005
The Barbarian Parade, or: Pursuit of the Un-American Dream
by Kirby Gann

From the inside flaps and back cover of the 2003 trade paperback (Hill Street Press):

The Barbarian Parade is the story of Gabriel Toure barreling head-first into life as he is introduced to sex, soccer, and the changing dynamics of family relations. Growing up in Montreux, Kentucky, Gaby idolizes his father, “Smilin’” Ray, a hardworking Southern man who is fond of the horse track and a drink with the boys. When Ray is sent to prison on false drug charges, Gaby, lustful for experience, breaks from his family and chooses to place his faith in his body and in the sport of soccer. Training relentlessly, he distances himself from his alcoholic mother and finds a role model in an older player, Mies, who helps him find a position on a professional team. A wild succession of adventures takes him across the Eastern United States and ultimately back home, where he must come to terms with his family and his hometown. Written in prose that ranges from brutally honest to poetic, The Barbarian Parade—part The Adventures of Augie March, part Bull Durham—is a portrait of contemporary America, a country plagued with many dark realities, yet dizzy, like Gabriel himself, with a sense of unlimited possibility.

Kirby Gann is a former semi-pro soccer player and bookseller who has lived throughout the United States and in Paris. He is the editor of A Fine Excess: Contemporary Literature at Play, and his writing has appeared in American Writing, The Crescent Review, The Southern Indiana Review, and Witness. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he is managing editor for Sarabande Books and teaches in the brief-residency MFA Writing Program at Spalding University. Also a songwriter, he plays in the band Jakeleg, whose CD, Junkyard Cafe, is available from ear X-tacy Records. This is his debut novel.

“Marks the debut of an important and vigorous new voice in fiction. This is so very much more than a coming-of-age story—it’s real and moving and true in the sense that good fiction is true: we see ourselves here.”
—Bret Lott, Jewel

“Gann’s fearless first novel X-rays middle-class American youth as neglected by parents and seduced by the woman-using values of American sports. Far more distressing than The Catcher in the Rye but just as well-written, The Barbarian Parade is compelling and memorable.”
—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife

The Barbarian Parade pulls off an astonishing feat; it’s simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, evocative but never nostalgic, touching but never sentimental, and it manages to be not only poetic, but a great page-turner. This is a remarkable debut.”
—Silas House, Clay’s Quilt

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