WINNER OF THE 2016 DRUE HEINZ LITERATURE PRIZE

Selected by Richard Russo

FICTION/SHORT STORIES, University of Pittsburgh Press

Available October 5, 2016

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Many of these richly layered stories juxtapose the miracles of modern medicine against the inescapable frustrations of everyday life: awkward first dates, the indignities of air travel, and overwhelming megastore cereal aisles. In “Go Forth,” an aging couple attends a kidney transplant reunion, where donors and recipients collide with unexpected results; in “Hounds,” a woman who runs a facial reconstruction program for veterans nurses her dying dog while recounting the ways she has used sex as both a weapon and a salve; and in “Consider this Case,” a lonely fetal surgeon caring for his aesthete father must reconsider sexuality and the lengths people will go to have children.

Melissa Yancy’s personal experience in the milieus of hospitals, medicine, and family services infuse her narratives with a rare texture and gravity. Keenly observed, offering both sharp humor and humanity, these stories explore the ties that bind—both genetic and otherwise—and the fine line between the mundane and the maudlin. Whether the men or women that populate these pages are contending with illness, death, parenthood, the real focus is on time and our inability to slow its progression, and to revel in those moments we can control.


“The smart, intricate, carefully crafted stories in Dog Years reminded me of Lauren Groff’s Delicate, Edible Birds for both their ambition and extraordinary beauty.”—Richard Russo, Drue Heinz Prize judge

“Melissa Yancy’s stories make me swoon with recognition. They’re funny and sad in the same breath; they’re incredibly well-executed; they’re about the endlessly fascinating machinery of relationships, about the weird intersections of medical technology and human dignity, and about the ways time catches up with everyone in the end. I’ve been waiting a long time for Yancy’s stories to be collected in a book; Dog Years is cause for celebration.”—Anthony Doerr

“Melissa Yancy is a brilliant writer. In Dog Years she extracts from modern medicine a metaphoric language to describe the triumphs and disappointments of daily life with enormous empathy.”—Anthony Marra

“The stories of Dog Years deftly explore illness, aging, dying, and the fight we rage against the inevitable. There is beauty in all of these things, a kind of human gloaming, as after the sun sets comes sublime light. Yancy finds and uses this light masterfully again and again in every one of these deeply human, deeply affecting stories.”
Marie-Helene Bertino