Amanda Marbais

Claiming a Body: Short Stories

The stories in Amanda Marbais’s Claiming a Body read like dispatches from a frontline strewn with infected relationships, metastasizing anxieties, and cultural fatigue. Propelled by sympathetic characters and assertive voices that both capture and convey a uniquely contemporary dread, these virtual confessions reveal life at its most negotiable: a woman overcomes her fear of both commitment and grizzlies in the unspoiled wilderness of Glacier National Park; a couple cons friends one last time in the decaying rustbelt before turning on each other; the son of a poultry farmer struggles with inhumane practices while resisting the undercurrent of violence in his high school.

Just as Marbais’ characters seek to cross painful thresholds and unearth their better selves, her collection finds ways to communicate across traditional genre lines, bringing together such disparate styles as noir, environmental fiction, and speculative fiction. Woven throughout is a hard-wrought prose that crackles with a steady stream of references to the modern American landscape that is frequently to blame for the chaos left in its wake.


“Each story in Marbais’s sharp, glittering collection forms a complete and chaotic universe constellated by characters who shape, destroy, captivate and confound one another. Their souls are cool and brave; their bodies grimy, fragile; their friendships laboratories in which to experiment with appetite and numbness.”

may-lan tan, New York Times SUnday Book review, June 2, 2019


Praise for Claiming a Body


Jac Jemc


Each story here is a window into a different volatile situation where characters know the punishment for intervention is often more severe than the punishment for indifference. Marbais writes physicality with a visceral, endangered verity that reminds readers what a liability it is to have a body. It’s a perfect book for this moment.

Leslie Pietrzyk


These stories of “the disintegrating end of middle class” are taut and piercing and painfully funny, about the kind of gritty people who’d hate being called gritty. Amanda Marbais is the voice we need to listen to right now.

Andrew Ervin


Amanda Marbais writes without fear about what passes in our society as the new normal. Every sentence reminds us how warm the water is while also insisting that we linger for just one more moment and then for just one more after that. These are marvelous stories.

Dustin M. Hoffman


In an American landscape strung together by rust and grime, scraped-out humans fight over last scraps and claw at meager paychecks. Every human connection seems tentative and threadbare, in Marbais's stories, all relationships teetering on a razor's edge. Her leading women stare into the void of a post-recession world where men have become volatile waistoids. Danger lurks everywhere throughout this collection, and each story threatens to drive off a cliff. Marbais is a master of tension and gritty realism, but her approach is so unique, laced with absurdity and humor and flashes of surreal. The horror is so intense and inevitable that Marbais's characters tumble into its shadow. This collection is delightfully haunting and has tattooed a flickering neon junkyard into my brain.

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News & Events


Claiming a Body Enters its Third Printing

June 22, 2019

Due to incredibly popular demand, Amanda Marbais’ debut collection, Claiming a Body, winner of the the 2018 Moon City Short Fiction Award, is in its third printing! New copies will be available through both Amazon and University of Arkansas Press very, very soon. Thank you to those who have already purchased and supported this wonderful book!


Claiming a Body Part of Hungry for Stories Book Club at Read/Write Library

June 22, 2019

Amanda will be speaking to the book club on July 24th. “Hungry for Stories is a book club about the Chicago point of view, as constructed (and demolished) by some of the city’s most divergent writers, artists, editors and publishers.” Learn how to RSVP for this month’s discussion here.


Interview with Leslie Pietrzyk on Work-in-Progress

June 18, 2019

TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe! Read More . . .


Claiming a Body Featured in New York Times Book Review’s “The Shortlist”

May 28, 2019

May-Lan Tan (author of “Things to Make and Break”, Coffee House, 2018) features Claiming a Body and two other debut short story collections that “unearth the dark underbellies of relationships.” Read More…


Casey Smith Reviews Claiming a Body

May 11, 2019

“Whether she is writing about shady drug deals, white collar crime, or the accidental death of a cat named Sparkle-Motion, the plots of these stories whisk us breathlessly from one thrilling conclusion to the next. Through these narratives, Marbais reveals the disquiet that underlies seemingly mundane situations. No event feels completely safe, and no person can be completely known, which causes the palpable eeriness that defines this collection.” Read More…

Interview with Writers on Writing

May 10, 2019

Amanda discusses Claiming a Body with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett and Marrie Stone. She shares her arduous revision process (confessing that stories often undergo between 25 and 40 revisions), and assembling a collection versus publishing individual stories. Amanda dissects one of her pieces—from original kernel of inspiration to the final revision. She discusses dialogue, the importance of reading your work aloud, and her propensity towards gallows humor.

Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading

May 1, 2019

"Horribilis", one of the stories in Claiming a Body, is featured on Electric Literature. With an introduction by Moon City Press Editor Micheal Czyzniejewski, "Horribilis" is a story about being afraid of everything, but living your life anyway.


AWP 2019

Portland, or – March 27-30, 2019 – oregon convention center

Copies of Claiming a Body will be available at the Moon City Press table at the bookfair (Table T14101). Amanda will be performing with other Moon City Press authors at an offsite reading on Saturday, March 30th at the White Owl Social Club.