“Sarah Gerard is a Southern writer for the 21st century. In Sunshine State, the sacred lies right next to the profane; the weird is always inextricable from its own beauty. These essays reach out toward the people and places of Gerard's childhood, family, and history while also reaching within to examine her own complicity in the creation of her life's story. You'll want to linger in these strange, quiet corners with her, and you will struggle, as she does, to understand the mysteries that motivate the people we love.”
— Elizabeth Anderson, Charis Books & More, Atlanta, GA
Longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay
A New York Times Critics' Best Books of the Year - An NPR Best Book of the Year - A NYLON Best Nonfiction Book of the Year - A Buzzfeed Best Nonfiction Book of the Year - An Entrophy Magazine Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year - A Brooklyn Rail Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year - A Baltimore Beat Best Book of the Year
A Paris Review Staff Pick - A Chicago Tribune Exciting Book for 2017 - A Rolling Stone Culture Index Reccomendation - A Buzzfeed Most Exciting Book for 2017 - A The Millions Great 2017 Book Preview Pick - A Huffington Post 2017 Preview Pick - A NYLON Best 10 Books of the Month - A Lit Hub 15 Books to Read This Month A Poets & Writers New and Noteworth Selection - A PW Top 10 Spring Pick in Essays & Literary Criticism - An Emma Straub Reccomendation on PBS
"One of the themes of 'Sunshine State, ' Sarah Gerard's striking book of essays, is how Florida can unmoor you and make you reach for shoddy, off-the-shelf solutions to your psychic unease.... The first essay is a knockout, a lurid red heart wrapped in barbed wire.... This essay draws blood." -- Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Unflinchingly candid memoir bolstered by thoughtfully researched history.... A nuanced and subtly intimate mosaic... her writing, lucid yet atmospheric, takes on a timeless ebb and flow." -- Jason Heller, NPR.org
"Stunning." -- Rolling Stone
"These large-hearted, meticulous essays offer an uncanny x-ray of our national psyche... showing us both the grand beauty of our American dreams and the heartbreaking devastation they wreak." -- Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
Sarah Gerard follows her breakout novel, Binary Star, with the dynamic essay collection Sunshine State, which explores Florida as a microcosm of the most pressing economic and environmental perils haunting our society.
In the collection's title essay, Gerard volunteers at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, a world renowned bird refuge. There she meets its founder, who once modeled with a pelican on his arm for a Dewar's Scotch campaign but has since declined into a pit of fraud and madness. He becomes our embezzling protagonist whose tales about the birds he "rescues" never quite add up. Gerard's personal stories are no less eerie or poignant: An essay that begins as a look at Gerard's first relationship becomes a heart-wrenching exploration of acquaintance rape and consent. An account of intimate female friendship pivots midway through, morphing into a meditation on jealousy and class.
With the personal insight of The Empathy Exams, the societal exposal of Nickel and Dimed, and the stylistic innovation and intensity of her own break-out debut novel Binary Star, Sarah Gerard's Sunshine State uses the intimately personal to unearth the deep reservoirs of humanity buried in the corners of our world often hardest to face.