The Book Catapult is pleased to host debut novelist Melissa Chadburn on Friday, April 15 at 7pm for a discussion of her new novel, A Tiny Upward Shove. Melissa will be in-conversation with local author Jaclyn Jemc.
Marina Salles’s life does not end the day she wakes up dead. Instead, in the course of a moment, she is transformed into the stuff of myth, the stuff of her grandmother’s old Filipino stories—an aswang, a creature of mystery and vengeance. She spent her time on earth on the margins; shot like a pinball through a childhood of loss, she was a veteran of Child Protective Services and a survivor, but always reacting, watching from a distance, understanding very little of her own life, let alone the lives of others. Death brings her into the hearts and minds of those she has known—even her killer—as she accesses their memories and sees anew the meaning of her own. In her nine days as an aswang, while she considers whether to exact vengeance on her killer, she also traces back, finally able to see what led these two lost souls to a crushingly inevitable conclusion. In A Tiny Upward Shove, the debut novelist Melissa Chadburn charts the heartbreaking journeys of two of society’s castoffs as they make their way to each other and their roles as criminal and victim. What does it mean to be on the brink? When are those moments that change not only our lives but our very selves? And how, in this impossible world, full of cruelty and negligence, can we rouse ourselves toward mercy?
“A Tiny Upward Shove is gloriously voiced, the kind of addictive and headlong novel that makes reading into a wild bronco ride. Melissa Chadburn has it, the spark; her first novel is strange and tender and not to be missed.” —Lauren Groff, author of Matrix
“Melissa Chadburn has written a novel that grabs your attention and won’t let it go—it’s fueled by a wild, jagged energy and an exuberant mixing of cultures and a narrator whose frank, poignant voice will keep echoing in your head.” —Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Likes
“Melissa Chadburn is a fiercely original, brave writer. She writes with the voice of the survivor she is, finding the lyrical and the deeply human in seemingly dark and impenetrable landscapes.” —Héctor Tobar, author of The Last Great Road Bum
Melissa Chadburn’s writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review Daily, The Best American Food Writing, and many other publications. Her extensive reporting on the child welfare system appears in the Netflix docuseries The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez. Melissa is a worker lover and through her own labor and literary citizenship strives to upend economic violence. Her mother taught her how to sharpen a pencil with a knife and she's basically been doing that ever since. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Southern California and lives in greater Los Angeles.
Jac Jemc is the author of False Bingo, The Grip of It, My Only Wife, and A Different Bed Every Time. My Only Wife was a finalist for the 2013 PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, and her story collection False Bingo won the Chicago Review of Books Award for fiction, was a Lambda Award finalist, and was longlisted for The Story Prize. Jemc has been the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Professional Development Grants and currently teaches creative writing at UC San Diego.