Prairie, Dresses, Art, Other

From the “strikingly smart and daringly feminist” (Jenny Offill) author of Margaret the First and SPRAWL comes a prose collection like no other, where different styles of writing and different spaces of experience create a collage of the depths and strangeness of contemporary life.

“Luminous” (The Guardian) and “brilliantly odd” (The Irish Independent), Danielle Dutton’s writing is as protean as it is beguiling. In the four eponymous sections of Prairie, Dresses, Art, Other, Dutton imagines new models for how literature might work in our fractured times.

“Prairie” is a cycle of surreal stories set in the quickly disappearing prairieland of the American Midwest. “Dresses” offers a surprisingly moving portrait of literary fashions. “Art” turns to essay, examining how works of visual art and fiction might relate to one another, a question central to the whole book; while the final section, “Other,” includes pieces of irregular (“other”) forms, stories-as-essays or essays-as-stories that defy category and are hilarious and heartbreaking by turns.

Out of these varied materials, Dutton builds a haunting landscape of wildflowers, megadams, black holes, violence, fear, virtual reality, abiding strangeness and indefinable beauty.

About the author

Danielle Dutton (Photo: Washington University)

Danielle Dutton is associate professor of English and co-director of the Center for the Literary Arts, both in Arts & Sciences, at Washington University in St. Louis. Her previous books are Margaret the First, SPRAWL and Attempts at a Life. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Paris Review, BOMB, The White Review and NOON, among others. She is the cofounder and editor of Dorothy, a publishing project. Born and raised in California, she has lived on the (former) prairie for nearly twenty years.


Literary Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2024”
The Rumpus, “Most Anticipated Books of (early) 2024”, “100 Most Anticipated Books of 2024”
The Millions, “Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2024”

“A shimmering and perplexing work that challenges the constraints of traditional prose… Highbrow while remaining mischievously playful, reminiscent of the form-smashing thrills of writers like Lydia Davis and Anne Carson.” —Kirkus, starred review

“Relentlessly surprising and thoroughly original, this dazzles.” —Publishers Weekly

“How the world has changed since the Brontë sisters wrote of long walks over the moors, or Virginia Woolf of flowers, trees, water, sky. The texture of those writers is all over these pages, and you can almost hear Dutton talking to them, saying, Look what’s happened! Saying, Is there a future?” —Deb Olin Unferth, The Believer

“This is one everyone will be talking about.” —Emily Firetog, Literary Hub

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