Named a Best Debut Novel of 2020 by Library Journal
“Seen through keen eyes and full of deep feeling, Ordinary Hazards delves into the psyche of a woman grappling with grief, loss, and the burdens of inheritance. Anna Bruno vividly renders the messiness of a single human life in all its joy and heartbreak.” —Claire Lombardo, New York Times bestseller
For fans of Celeste Ng and Claire Messud comes an impeccably paced and transfixing debut novel about finding hope in the dark.
It’s 5pm on a Wednesday when Emma settles into her hometown bar with a motley crew of locals, all unaware that a series of decisions over the course of a single night is about to change their lives forever. As the evening unfolds, key details about Emma’s history emerge, and the past comes bearing down on her like a freight train.
Why has Emma, a powerhouse in the business world, ended up here? What is she running away from? And what is she willing to give up to recapture the love she once cherished? An exploration of contemporary love, guilt, and the place we call home, and in the tradition of Ask Again, Yes and Little Fires Everywhere, Ordinary Hazards follows one woman’s epic journey back to a life worth living.
About the Author
Anna Bruno is a writer and teacher at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. Previously, Anna managed public relations and marketing for technology and financial services companies in Silicon Valley. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an MBA from Cornell University, and a BA from Stanford University. She lives in Iowa City with her husband, two sons, and blue heeler. Ordinary Hazards is her first novel.
Praise for Ordinary Hazards:
“Seen through keen eyes and full of deep feeling, Ordinary Hazards delves into the psyche of a woman grappling with grief, loss, and the burdens of inheritance. Anna Bruno vividly renders the messiness of a single human life in all its joy and heartbreak.” —CLAIRE LOMBARDO, author of The Most Fun We Ever Had
“Bruno shows a masterful talent for sketching both the outlines and depths of depression, guilt, and self-loathing… A spellbinding portrait of grief.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Crisp, haunting, and intelligent. Beneath the surface of this booze-soaked, small town, dive bar novel lies a devastating story of loss, guilt, and grief. Bruno’s narrator proves a dark, funny, unflinching companion as you descend with her, step by step, towards the revelation of what has led her to the bar tonight.” —STEPHEN MARKLEY, author of Ohio
“Echoing the small-town atmospheric work of Richard Russo, Andre Dubus III, and Jane Smiley, Bruno's novel introduces a lyrical, earnest, and heartfelt voice. For the regulars, or anyone who's walked into a woodpaneled haven and had their drink of choice slid across a well-polished bar without exchanging a word, Ordinary Hazards burns deliciously, but goes down easy.” —Booklist (starred)
"Ordinary Hazards is a kaleidoscopic novel of the best variety, spinning into and out of itself as it explores grief, love and loss in ways that will haunt readers long past the last page." —Shelf Awareness (starred)
“What is fated? And how do we create our own fate through the smallest decisions? With humor and heart, Anna Bruno has written a haunting novel that confronts this question in all aspects of one’s life: family, career, marriage, and motherhood. Each character in Ordinary Hazards bears the weight of their history, and Bruno shows how even the most devastating secrets deserve redemption.” —FATIMA MIRZA, author of A Place for Us
“Ordinary Hazards is a devastating slow burn of a book. It's rare to read a novel that takes such an unflinching look at grief, self-recrimination, and the way people try to put themselves back together after loss. Heavy topics are handled with a light touch.”—LYDIA KIESLING, author ofThe Golden State
"[An] engrossing debut... Bruno’s thoughtful tale offers memorable insights on the meaning of home." —Publishers Weekly