Jason Mott

Having made his name as one of America’s premier new poets, Jason Mott now turns to prose in his first novel, The Returned. In Mott’s debut, a worldwide phenomenon has inexplicably brought the deceased come back to life, reborn the same age they were when they died. Focusing on the bewildered families of a rural Southern town — a pastor haunted by an ex-girlfriend, an aged couple adjusting to the return of their long-gone son — Mott explores the debate as to whether these returns are miracle or curse, redemption or ruin. The result is a poignant and singular take on mortality’s timeless questions. This week, Mott discusses books that for him carry deep resonance, and share his own work’s themes of wrestling with the supernatural, and what it means to comprise a family.

October Light
By John Gardner

“A masterwork of American writing. A book that is both expansive and intimate. Gardner achieves a conversation about family and commitment to one’s beliefs, but also builds a fascinating discussion of fiction and its overarching purpose.”

The Snow Child
By Eowyn Ivey

“A taut, fascinating tale that mingles folklore and mythology with harsh realism and a period in American history. The Snow Child achieves that ever-elusive yet desperately important task of absconding with the reader; taking them from the conformity and repetition of the world they know and relocating them into the bowels and intimacy of a world they might otherwise never come to know. Few writers possess this gift, which Ivey flaunts so blatantly.”

American Gods
By Neil Gaiman

“Few authors possess the imagination of Neil Gaiman, and fewer still possess the talent. This is a book that bridges gaps that most people do not even know exist. This is a book about belief, religion, mythology, and more. In my opinion, of all of Gaiman’s works, this is the one that most trumpets his ethos, not only as a writer but as a contributor to the ‘great conversation’ that is fiction.”