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© 2017 David Joy

The Weight Of This World

Putnam, 2017

Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut, Where All Light Tends to Go, was hailed as “a savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literature” (The Huffington Post), returns to the mountains of North Carolina with a powerful story about the inescapable weight of the past.

A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years. Between them is Aiden McCall, loyal to both but unable to hold them together. Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. On a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it. The Weight Of This World is available now from Putnam Books.

Available in paperback June 5, 2018 - Check back soon to preorder!
"Bleakly beautiful...Friendship forms the spine of this gorgeously written but pitiless novel about a region blessed by nature but reduced to desolation and despair."

The New York Times
"Joy's love and respect for language is clear through beautiful, gritty prose...Darkly stunning Appalachian noir."

The Huffington Post
“Scenes unfold at a furious pace, yet contain such rich description that readers will do well to read slowly, savoring Joy’s prose...[These characters] are hopelessly conflicted, dripping with history and heartache, yet they cling to unique dreams about what life could look like if they carried a bit less weight.”

Associated Press
“Joy is a remarkably gifted storyteller. The life he fuels into his characters is so high-test that if they are not lying face down in a pool of blood by novel’s end, they keep rambling through the mind...How these characters deal with their demons gives redemption a new dimension.”

The Charlotte Observer
"In just two novels, Edgar nominee Joy has established a unique niche in mystery fiction—writing about people who live off the grid in the county he calls home...His novels have been called rural noir or mountain noir, but that would be a simplistic description, because his novels dig deep into his characters’ psyche."

Mystery Scene Magazine
"Reeks of authenticity; this world is grisly and bleak...Joy’s second novel of ‘Appalachian noir’ may be even better than his Edgar-finalist first. He tells a hell of a story."

Shelf Awareness
"Appalachia provides the evocative setting for this tale of a brutal world filled with violence and drugs...Lyrical prose, realistic dialogue, and a story that illuminates the humanity of each character make this a standout.”

Publishers Weekly
“Readers of Southern grit lit will enjoy Joy’s excellent sophomore outing, which is both dark and violent. Ron Rash aficionados will appreciate Joy’s strong sense of place in his vivid depiction of rural Appalachia.”

Library Journal
“Joy neither condescends to his characters nor excuses them but simply depicts them amid the crushing poverty and natural beauty of their environment. With prose as lyrical as it is hard-edged, he captures men still pining for childhood and stunned to find themselves as grownups with blood on their hands. Joy is one to watch—and read.”

Booklist
"The Weight Of This World is pure, blood-soaked, intense poetry from the gutter. This is a book that deals with physical and emotional wounds in ways that only the best contemporary noir authors can do."

Volume One Brooklyn
"A dark, mesmerizing and addictive story that is akin to a waking nightmare. The story is what brings you to The Weight Of This World, but you will want to stay (and keep reading non-stop) because of Joy’s exquisite prose, particularly his rough-hewn dialogue, which is as authentic as it can possibly get."

Book Reporter
"Often dark but always genuine, David Joy’s writing has led him to become one of the South’s most promising new authors."

The Marietta Daily Journal
"Joy kicks the doors wide open with The Weight Of This World, a rollicking, methamphetamine fueled drug-deal-gone-bad odyssey through the backwoods and back roads of Western North Carolina. It’s that line between what is right under the eyes of God and what is rightfully your—perhaps—one and only chance for something more."

Smokey Mountain News
"[Joy is] a commanding Southern writer...The novel is riddled with pain [but] is also textured with honesty and a craving to see the world more simply, more black and white, than the horrific reality that is so often presented...Lyrical, beautifully written yet grounded in a reality that is harsh and desperate.”

Watauga Democrat
"Joy powerfully depicts the cyclical nature of violence and despair that often curses large elements of Appalachia. But this story and heartache is familiar to all readers, and all who live under a fallen world that still groans out from the pain of its limitations and our very finite existence."

North State Journal
"Joy explores the darkness of an area that many people experience only through tourism, where characters ravaged by addiction, domestic violence, and an economy that refuses to rebound scramble to change their lives."

WNC Magazine
"Despite the coarseness of the material, listen to the poetry in Joy’s prose...He has cornered the 'Appalachian Noir' market."

Criminal Element
"Not a single word is wasted in The Weight Of This World, a dark and violent literary page-turner that burns with the white hot intensity rarely found in fiction today. A perfectly executed novel. This is a book that will endure."

Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table
“David Joy’s The Weight Of This World is a tale of exquisite grit. A fearless writer, Joy is willing to go to all the dark places, but his voice and his heart serve as such strong beacons that we’ll follow him and take our chances. Those chances pay off in a story that is as tense and harrowing as it is achingly tender. Don’t miss this book.”

Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me
“The Weight Of This World is a beautiful nightmare of lives battered by the forces of serendipity and inevitability. Of lives swirling down the drain in a haze of meth, abuse, blood, and, of all things, love.”

Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times-bestselling author of Where It Hurts
“The Weight of This World is a savage and heartbreaking tragedy. David Joy writes with a deep wisdom, compassion, and respect for the psychic and physical wounds, the pain and anger and sadness that at once shackle his broken characters and hurl them toward choices and outcomes that linger with the reader long after the last page is read. Most impressive, Joy has written about the cost of loyalty based in childhood friendships that no longer exist in the adult world, and how sacrifices made out of the love for another can lead to the ruin of the self.”

Eric Rickstad, New York Times-bestselling author of Lie in Wait
Photograph courtesy of Paolo Bevilacqua

Where All Light Tends to Go

Putnam, 2015
2016 Edgar Award Finalist for Best First Novel and longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award

In the country-noir tradition of Winter's Bone meets Breaking Bad, a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption.

The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when he botches a murder and sets off a trail of escalating violence, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his kingpin father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.

“[A] remarkable first novel...This isn’t your ordinary coming-of-age novel, but with his bone-cutting insights into these men and the region that bred them, Joy makes it an extraordinarily intimate experience.”

Marilyn Stasio, The New York TImes Book Review
"[A] savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literature."

Huffington Post
“[An] accomplished debut...In Appalachia, a young outlaw, Jacob McNeely, struggles to escape what Faulkner called that “old fierce pull of blood,” a violent meth-dealing father, the dark legacies of an unforgiving place and the terrible miseries it breeds. [A] beautiful, brutal book.”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“David Joy orchestrates the swirling, chaotic action of this debut novel with nimble prose and undeniable wisdom.”

North Carolina Literary Review
“Readers of Southern grit lit in the tradition of Daniel Woodrell and Harry Crews will enjoy this fast-paced debut thriller. Fans of Ron Rash’s novels will appreciate the intricate plot and Joy’s establishment of a strong sense of place in his depiction of rural Appalachia.”

Library Journal
“Bound to draw comparisons to Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone...[Joy's] moments of poetic cognizance are the stuff of fine fiction, lyrical sweets that will keep readers turning pages...Where All Light Tends To Go is a book that discloses itself gradually, like a sunrise peeking over a distant mountain range...If [Joy's next] novel is anything like his first, it'll be worth the wait.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Joy’s first novel is an uncompromising noir, its downward thrust pulling like quicksand on both the characters and the reader. And, yet, there is poetry here, too, as there is in Daniel Woodrell’s novels, the kind of poetry that draws its power from a doomed character’s grit in the face of disaster...This is the start of a very promising fiction-writing career.”

Booklist
“Gripping...Engaging characters, a well-realized setting, and poetic prose establish Joy as a novelist worth watching.”

Publishers Weekly
“Joy works with the materials many call the stuff of 'country noir.' The result calls to mind the work of powerful writers such as Ron Rash, Daniel Woodrell, Mark Powell, and Cormac McCarthy...Joy has crafted a piece of masterful fiction. His sense of pace, his ability to catch the reader off guard with explosive and often upsetting incidents, his way with the shape of a chapter—all herald a major young writer.”

Still: The Journal
“Joy’s debut is about hope as much as it is fate...[it] is harrowing. Joy’s voice is authentic, his prose sparse, his eye for detail minute. Everything works in this novel to push the reader closer and closer to the cliff’s edge, hoping against hope that what won’t be required is to jump off.”

Mountain Times
“Where All Light Tends to Go is lyrical, propulsive, dark and compelling. In this debut novel, David Joy makes it clear that he knows well the grit and gravel of his world, the soul and blemishes of the place. He uses details that put us inside the picture, and lets his narrative move at a graceful but restless pace.”

Daniel Woodrell, New York Times-bestselling author of Winter’s Bone and The Maid’s Version
"David Joy has written a savage and moving account of a young man’s attempt to transcend his family’s legacy of violence. Where All Light Tends to Go is an outstanding debut and a fine addition to the country noir vein of Southern Literature."

Ron Rash, PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times-bestselling author of Serena
"Where All Light Tends To Go is deeply rooted in place, written in an assured, authentic voice. David Joy manages to be both lyrical and gritty, loving and horrifyingly violent, funny and grim. His picture of modern Appalachia is rich and evocative, with bold storytelling not often seen in a first novel. This book is an amazing start to a career that could make Joy the Larry Brown of the Appalachians."

Ace Atkins, New York Times-bestselling author of The Forsaken
"Compelling and authentic . . . a harsh tale of young love’s tender hopes set against the brutal realities of ruined Appalachia. Jacob McNeely’s story is one worth reading."

Tawni O’Dell, New York Times-bestselling author of Back Roads
"Where All Light Tends to Go will be compared to a handful of grit lit masterpieces, but Joy's his own writer. It's a double page turner--I couldn't stop reading, but I relished each page twice, mesmerized by the language and plot twists. For every scene of evil personified, there's goodness. For every horrific act of lawless characters, there's the sublime. I'll remember--and be haunted by--this novel for a long, long time."

George Singleton, author of six collections including Between Wrecks
"Running with the dopers, drunks, and less fortunate in my youth, those who were doomed by their surroundings, the story that David Joy tells is one of truth, power and circumstance and quite possibly a tour de force in American letters."

Frank Bill, author of the collection Crimes In Southern Indiana and the novel Donnybrook
"David Joy writes under the auspices of community, heartbreak, and love, and makes use of the warmest color in fiction - gray. What is right and what is wrong and who is to decide? In the North Carolina mountains, these answers don't come easy. Big decisions come with big consequences, and if you second guess, you lose."

Michael Farris Smith, author of Rivers and The Hands of Strangers
"David Joy gives us a world that is equal parts graceful beauty and true grit in this poetic and heart-pounding novel. Where All Light Tends to Go contains those essential elements for a novel that 'sticks to the ribs': complex and memorable characters, a palpable sense of place, and a plot that is driven as much by suspense as lyricism. You won't be able to put down this profoundly moving and illuminating look into a mysterious and intricate world where the smell of the southern pines mingles with the scent of cooking meth."

Silas House, author of Clay's Quilt and Eli the Good
"Where All Light Tends to Go reads like the whiskey-breath of Harry Crews word-drunk on the lyricism of Daniel Woodrell. It's as brutally beautiful as it is heartbreaking, and that's a rare thing."

Mark Powell, author of The Dark Corner
Photograph courtesy of Ashley Evans

Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey

Bright Mountain Books, 2011
2012 Ragan Old North State Award Finalist for Nonfiction
2012 Reed Environmental Writing Award Finalist
2012 Roosevelt-Ashe Society Conservation Award Finalist
2012 SIBA Award Nominee

Published in September 2011 by Bright Mountain Books, Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey delves into David Joy's obsession with fish. With a closer connection to fish than to humans, the author works to reveal why he is inherently defined by the piscine world. Topics range from environmentalism to family, Rousseau's "noble savage" to the ones that got away, places that remain wild to the worn cork of rods, the beauty of native trout to the art of fly tying. Ultimately, by revealing the reasons for his obsession, Joy is able to understand the man he has become.

In the early summer of 2010 Joy contacted a local artist, Michael Polomik, to commemorate the completion of Growing Gills. After receiving a degree in studio art from the University of Wilmington in 2005, Polomik began work at Western Carolina University's graduate program. Spanning numerous media, Polomik's work traces visual and mental systems. Paths in which one might move, see, feel, or imagine often define or connect subjects, expressing a spiritual progression of growth and understanding. Combining the figural with conceptual space, Polomik's work on Growing Gills attempts to illuminate the themes of the memoir, while providing a visual addition to the text.

"If any human could grow gills, it would be David Joy. His life-long connection to fish is vividly realized in this book, in large part because of his poetic language and sensibility. Growing Gills is a book anyone interested in our connection to the natural world will relish."

Ron Rash, author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist Serena
"Attention fishing widows: if you've struggled in vain to understand man's obsession with fishing, you must read David Joy's memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey. In prose clean and clear as a mountain stream, Joy explores his own abiding love of fish and, by extension, the natural world that is their habitat. His passion is contagious and, even if you've never seen a trout in your life, by the end of this beautifully written book you can't help but feel a connection. You may even be tempted to take up a rod yourself."

Pamela Duncan, author of Plant Life and other novels
"In Joy's ambitious moments, he uses fishing stories to move into philosophical terrain, pondering his heritage and wondering if humans can revert to a state of wildness. As the book proves, the act of fishing, being the predator in search of another living thing, brings the human closer to the natural world, from which some people feel separated."

Our State Magazine
"Convergence with nature is a kind of religion, which becomes evident when Joy steers his book toward prophecy and enlightenment...The book is a classic to which readers will keep returning."

Asheville Citizen-Times
"Comparisons to David James Duncan's classic The River Why are inevitable, but Joy distinguishes his work with a wit and wisdom all his own. His narrative is infused with poetic romanticism that will connect with anyone who's found happiness with a rod and reel."

WNC magazine
"Joy offers readers both a paean to fishing and a memoir of his own days on the water. He takes us from the coast of North Carolina, where he fished as a boy with his family, to the creeks and rivers of our own mountains...Both amateur and veteran anglers may learn some good lessons from Joy's clear, clean prose."

Smoky Mountain News
"The book speaks of larger truths, especially when it comes to one of his biggest concerns in this part of the world: development. In his opinion, that more than anything is encroaching upon his beloved wild world."

The Mountaineer
Photograph courtesy of Ashley Evans

The Weight Of This World

Putnam, 2017

Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut, Where All Light Tends to Go, was hailed as “a savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literature” (The Huffington Post), returns to the mountains of North Carolina with a powerful story about the inescapable weight of the past.

A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years. Between them is Aiden McCall, loyal to both but unable to hold them together. Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. On a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it. The Weight Of This World is available now from Putnam Books.

Available in paperback June 5, 2018 - Check back soon to preorder!
"Bleakly beautiful...Friendship forms the spine of this gorgeously written but pitiless novel about a region blessed by nature but reduced to desolation and despair."

The New York Times
"Joy's love and respect for language is clear through beautiful, gritty prose...Darkly stunning Appalachian noir."

The Huffington Post
“Scenes unfold at a furious pace, yet contain such rich description that readers will do well to read slowly, savoring Joy’s prose...[These characters] are hopelessly conflicted, dripping with history and heartache, yet they cling to unique dreams about what life could look like if they carried a bit less weight.”

Associated Press
“Joy is a remarkably gifted storyteller. The life he fuels into his characters is so high-test that if they are not lying face down in a pool of blood by novel’s end, they keep rambling through the mind...How these characters deal with their demons gives redemption a new dimension.”

The Charlotte Observer
"In just two novels, Edgar nominee Joy has established a unique niche in mystery fiction—writing about people who live off the grid in the county he calls home...His novels have been called rural noir or mountain noir, but that would be a simplistic description, because his novels dig deep into his characters’ psyche."

Mystery Scene Magazine
"Reeks of authenticity; this world is grisly and bleak...Joy’s second novel of ‘Appalachian noir’ may be even better than his Edgar-finalist first. He tells a hell of a story."

Shelf Awareness
"Appalachia provides the evocative setting for this tale of a brutal world filled with violence and drugs...Lyrical prose, realistic dialogue, and a story that illuminates the humanity of each character make this a standout.”

Publishers Weekly
“Readers of Southern grit lit will enjoy Joy’s excellent sophomore outing, which is both dark and violent. Ron Rash aficionados will appreciate Joy’s strong sense of place in his vivid depiction of rural Appalachia.”

Library Journal
“Joy neither condescends to his characters nor excuses them but simply depicts them amid the crushing poverty and natural beauty of their environment. With prose as lyrical as it is hard-edged, he captures men still pining for childhood and stunned to find themselves as grownups with blood on their hands. Joy is one to watch—and read.”

Booklist
"The Weight Of This World is pure, blood-soaked, intense poetry from the gutter. This is a book that deals with physical and emotional wounds in ways that only the best contemporary noir authors can do."

Volume One Brooklyn
"A dark, mesmerizing and addictive story that is akin to a waking nightmare. The story is what brings you to The Weight Of This World, but you will want to stay (and keep reading non-stop) because of Joy’s exquisite prose, particularly his rough-hewn dialogue, which is as authentic as it can possibly get."

Book Reporter
"Often dark but always genuine, David Joy’s writing has led him to become one of the South’s most promising new authors."

The Marietta Daily Journal
"Joy kicks the doors wide open with The Weight Of This World, a rollicking, methamphetamine fueled drug-deal-gone-bad odyssey through the backwoods and back roads of Western North Carolina. It’s that line between what is right under the eyes of God and what is rightfully your—perhaps—one and only chance for something more."

Smokey Mountain News
"[Joy is] a commanding Southern writer...The novel is riddled with pain [but] is also textured with honesty and a craving to see the world more simply, more black and white, than the horrific reality that is so often presented...Lyrical, beautifully written yet grounded in a reality that is harsh and desperate.”

Watauga Democrat
"Joy powerfully depicts the cyclical nature of violence and despair that often curses large elements of Appalachia. But this story and heartache is familiar to all readers, and all who live under a fallen world that still groans out from the pain of its limitations and our very finite existence."

North State Journal
"Joy explores the darkness of an area that many people experience only through tourism, where characters ravaged by addiction, domestic violence, and an economy that refuses to rebound scramble to change their lives."

WNC Magazine
"Despite the coarseness of the material, listen to the poetry in Joy’s prose...He has cornered the 'Appalachian Noir' market."

Criminal Element
"Not a single word is wasted in The Weight Of This World, a dark and violent literary page-turner that burns with the white hot intensity rarely found in fiction today. A perfectly executed novel. This is a book that will endure."

Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table
“David Joy’s The Weight Of This World is a tale of exquisite grit. A fearless writer, Joy is willing to go to all the dark places, but his voice and his heart serve as such strong beacons that we’ll follow him and take our chances. Those chances pay off in a story that is as tense and harrowing as it is achingly tender. Don’t miss this book.”

Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me
“The Weight Of This World is a beautiful nightmare of lives battered by the forces of serendipity and inevitability. Of lives swirling down the drain in a haze of meth, abuse, blood, and, of all things, love.”

Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times-bestselling author of Where It Hurts
“The Weight of This World is a savage and heartbreaking tragedy. David Joy writes with a deep wisdom, compassion, and respect for the psychic and physical wounds, the pain and anger and sadness that at once shackle his broken characters and hurl them toward choices and outcomes that linger with the reader long after the last page is read. Most impressive, Joy has written about the cost of loyalty based in childhood friendships that no longer exist in the adult world, and how sacrifices made out of the love for another can lead to the ruin of the self.”

Eric Rickstad, New York Times-bestselling author of Lie in Wait
Photograph courtesy of Paolo Bevilacqua

Where All Light Tends to Go

Putnam, 2015
2016 Edgar Award Finalist for Best First Novel and longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award

In the country-noir tradition of Winter's Bone meets Breaking Bad, a savage and beautiful story of a young man seeking redemption.

The area surrounding Cashiers, North Carolina, is home to people of all kinds, but the world that Jacob McNeely lives in is crueler than most. His father runs a methodically organized meth ring, with local authorities on the dime to turn a blind eye to his dealings. Having dropped out of high school and cut himself off from his peers, Jacob has been working for this father for years, all on the promise that his payday will come eventually. The only joy he finds comes from reuniting with Maggie, his first love, and a girl clearly bound for bigger and better things than their hardscrabble town.

Jacob has always been resigned to play the cards that were dealt him, but when he botches a murder and sets off a trail of escalating violence, he’s faced with a choice: stay and appease his kingpin father, or leave the mountains with the girl he loves. In a place where blood is thicker than water and hope takes a back seat to fate, Jacob wonders if he can muster the strength to rise above the only life he’s ever known.

“[A] remarkable first novel...This isn’t your ordinary coming-of-age novel, but with his bone-cutting insights into these men and the region that bred them, Joy makes it an extraordinarily intimate experience.”

Marilyn Stasio, The New York TImes Book Review
"[A] savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literature."

Huffington Post
“[An] accomplished debut...In Appalachia, a young outlaw, Jacob McNeely, struggles to escape what Faulkner called that “old fierce pull of blood,” a violent meth-dealing father, the dark legacies of an unforgiving place and the terrible miseries it breeds. [A] beautiful, brutal book.”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“David Joy orchestrates the swirling, chaotic action of this debut novel with nimble prose and undeniable wisdom.”

North Carolina Literary Review
“Readers of Southern grit lit in the tradition of Daniel Woodrell and Harry Crews will enjoy this fast-paced debut thriller. Fans of Ron Rash’s novels will appreciate the intricate plot and Joy’s establishment of a strong sense of place in his depiction of rural Appalachia.”

Library Journal
“Bound to draw comparisons to Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone...[Joy's] moments of poetic cognizance are the stuff of fine fiction, lyrical sweets that will keep readers turning pages...Where All Light Tends To Go is a book that discloses itself gradually, like a sunrise peeking over a distant mountain range...If [Joy's next] novel is anything like his first, it'll be worth the wait.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Joy’s first novel is an uncompromising noir, its downward thrust pulling like quicksand on both the characters and the reader. And, yet, there is poetry here, too, as there is in Daniel Woodrell’s novels, the kind of poetry that draws its power from a doomed character’s grit in the face of disaster...This is the start of a very promising fiction-writing career.”

Booklist
“Gripping...Engaging characters, a well-realized setting, and poetic prose establish Joy as a novelist worth watching.”

Publishers Weekly
“Joy works with the materials many call the stuff of 'country noir.' The result calls to mind the work of powerful writers such as Ron Rash, Daniel Woodrell, Mark Powell, and Cormac McCarthy...Joy has crafted a piece of masterful fiction. His sense of pace, his ability to catch the reader off guard with explosive and often upsetting incidents, his way with the shape of a chapter—all herald a major young writer.”

Still: The Journal
“Joy’s debut is about hope as much as it is fate...[it] is harrowing. Joy’s voice is authentic, his prose sparse, his eye for detail minute. Everything works in this novel to push the reader closer and closer to the cliff’s edge, hoping against hope that what won’t be required is to jump off.”

Mountain Times
“Where All Light Tends to Go is lyrical, propulsive, dark and compelling. In this debut novel, David Joy makes it clear that he knows well the grit and gravel of his world, the soul and blemishes of the place. He uses details that put us inside the picture, and lets his narrative move at a graceful but restless pace.”

Daniel Woodrell, New York Times-bestselling author of Winter’s Bone and The Maid’s Version
"David Joy has written a savage and moving account of a young man’s attempt to transcend his family’s legacy of violence. Where All Light Tends to Go is an outstanding debut and a fine addition to the country noir vein of Southern Literature."

Ron Rash, PEN/Faulkner finalist and New York Times-bestselling author of Serena
"Where All Light Tends To Go is deeply rooted in place, written in an assured, authentic voice. David Joy manages to be both lyrical and gritty, loving and horrifyingly violent, funny and grim. His picture of modern Appalachia is rich and evocative, with bold storytelling not often seen in a first novel. This book is an amazing start to a career that could make Joy the Larry Brown of the Appalachians."

Ace Atkins, New York Times-bestselling author of The Forsaken
"Compelling and authentic . . . a harsh tale of young love’s tender hopes set against the brutal realities of ruined Appalachia. Jacob McNeely’s story is one worth reading."

Tawni O’Dell, New York Times-bestselling author of Back Roads
"Where All Light Tends to Go will be compared to a handful of grit lit masterpieces, but Joy's his own writer. It's a double page turner--I couldn't stop reading, but I relished each page twice, mesmerized by the language and plot twists. For every scene of evil personified, there's goodness. For every horrific act of lawless characters, there's the sublime. I'll remember--and be haunted by--this novel for a long, long time."

George Singleton, author of six collections including Between Wrecks
"Running with the dopers, drunks, and less fortunate in my youth, those who were doomed by their surroundings, the story that David Joy tells is one of truth, power and circumstance and quite possibly a tour de force in American letters."

Frank Bill, author of the collection Crimes In Southern Indiana and the novel Donnybrook
"David Joy writes under the auspices of community, heartbreak, and love, and makes use of the warmest color in fiction - gray. What is right and what is wrong and who is to decide? In the North Carolina mountains, these answers don't come easy. Big decisions come with big consequences, and if you second guess, you lose."

Michael Farris Smith, author of Rivers and The Hands of Strangers
"David Joy gives us a world that is equal parts graceful beauty and true grit in this poetic and heart-pounding novel. Where All Light Tends to Go contains those essential elements for a novel that 'sticks to the ribs': complex and memorable characters, a palpable sense of place, and a plot that is driven as much by suspense as lyricism. You won't be able to put down this profoundly moving and illuminating look into a mysterious and intricate world where the smell of the southern pines mingles with the scent of cooking meth."

Silas House, author of Clay's Quilt and Eli the Good
"Where All Light Tends to Go reads like the whiskey-breath of Harry Crews word-drunk on the lyricism of Daniel Woodrell. It's as brutally beautiful as it is heartbreaking, and that's a rare thing."

Mark Powell, author of The Dark Corner
Photograph courtesy of Ashley Evans

Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey

Bright Mountain Books, 2011
2012 Ragan Old North State Award Finalist for Nonfiction
2012 Reed Environmental Writing Award Finalist
2012 Roosevelt-Ashe Society Conservation Award Finalist
2012 SIBA Award Nominee

Published in September 2011 by Bright Mountain Books, Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey delves into David Joy's obsession with fish. With a closer connection to fish than to humans, the author works to reveal why he is inherently defined by the piscine world. Topics range from environmentalism to family, Rousseau's "noble savage" to the ones that got away, places that remain wild to the worn cork of rods, the beauty of native trout to the art of fly tying. Ultimately, by revealing the reasons for his obsession, Joy is able to understand the man he has become.

In the early summer of 2010 Joy contacted a local artist, Michael Polomik, to commemorate the completion of Growing Gills. After receiving a degree in studio art from the University of Wilmington in 2005, Polomik began work at Western Carolina University's graduate program. Spanning numerous media, Polomik's work traces visual and mental systems. Paths in which one might move, see, feel, or imagine often define or connect subjects, expressing a spiritual progression of growth and understanding. Combining the figural with conceptual space, Polomik's work on Growing Gills attempts to illuminate the themes of the memoir, while providing a visual addition to the text.

"If any human could grow gills, it would be David Joy. His life-long connection to fish is vividly realized in this book, in large part because of his poetic language and sensibility. Growing Gills is a book anyone interested in our connection to the natural world will relish."

Ron Rash, author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner finalist Serena
"Attention fishing widows: if you've struggled in vain to understand man's obsession with fishing, you must read David Joy's memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey. In prose clean and clear as a mountain stream, Joy explores his own abiding love of fish and, by extension, the natural world that is their habitat. His passion is contagious and, even if you've never seen a trout in your life, by the end of this beautifully written book you can't help but feel a connection. You may even be tempted to take up a rod yourself."

Pamela Duncan, author of Plant Life and other novels
"In Joy's ambitious moments, he uses fishing stories to move into philosophical terrain, pondering his heritage and wondering if humans can revert to a state of wildness. As the book proves, the act of fishing, being the predator in search of another living thing, brings the human closer to the natural world, from which some people feel separated."

Our State Magazine
"Convergence with nature is a kind of religion, which becomes evident when Joy steers his book toward prophecy and enlightenment...The book is a classic to which readers will keep returning."

Asheville Citizen-Times
"Comparisons to David James Duncan's classic The River Why are inevitable, but Joy distinguishes his work with a wit and wisdom all his own. His narrative is infused with poetic romanticism that will connect with anyone who's found happiness with a rod and reel."

WNC magazine
"Joy offers readers both a paean to fishing and a memoir of his own days on the water. He takes us from the coast of North Carolina, where he fished as a boy with his family, to the creeks and rivers of our own mountains...Both amateur and veteran anglers may learn some good lessons from Joy's clear, clean prose."

Smoky Mountain News
"The book speaks of larger truths, especially when it comes to one of his biggest concerns in this part of the world: development. In his opinion, that more than anything is encroaching upon his beloved wild world."

The Mountaineer
Photograph courtesy of Ashley Evans
© 2017 David Joy