Zek: An American Prison Story
Jonny is broken off, and doing time in an eastern Washington State Prison. He'll likely never see the outside world again. When Jonny is sent to the hole, he chances upon a deteriorating book. Intending at first to savor it, to read only a little at a time, he emerges a few short hours later, the book finished--And Jonny changed. Zek is his story, and it lays bare the brutality of a life spent behind bars. It is naked. It is ugly. And it is beautiful.
Arthur Longworth was born in Tacoma, Washington, was state-raised, and entered prison at the age of 21 with a seventh-grade education. He is widely published and has won numerous awards for his writing, including three National PEN awards. Completed in 2005, Zek utilizes the literary structure of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich to tell the story of a day in the life of a prisoner in the United States. It is likely Arthur Longworth's most widely read work, as it has been passed among prisoners and prison guards for over a decade. Zek is available now for the first time on the outside.
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About the Author
"The writing in Zek is simple, straightforward. It's not beautiful, but the bluntness of the language suits the subject matter perfectly. We see the prison through Jonny's eyes, and the unadorned vocabulary and sentence structure matches his pragmatic worldview." --Paul Constant, The Seattle Review of Books and The Seattle Weekly
"[Zek] strikes me as an honest, accurate account of imprisonment, and I am especially grateful for the details about solitary. It is a compelling and important novel." --Katy Ryan, West Virginia University, Associate Professor of English and Founder of the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP)
"America's deranged experiment with mass incarceration has generated a continuing fascination in the media. Television shows like Prison Break, Oz, and Orange is the New Black have dramatized the prison experience for millions of viewers. Arthur Longworth's Zek provides an insider's account of prison life that is every bit as compelling as these shows, but with a depth that goes beyond what television can offer. It is a remarkable effort." --Miguel Ferguson, University of Texas School of Social Work, and founder of "Words Beyond Walls," a prisoner/student education program.
"Longworth's strength lies in the detail of realistic narration and ability to adopt an unpretentious psychological point-of-view. Jonny's thoughts outline choices, avoidances, risks, and penalties of failure in a prison environment." --Joe Lockard, Souciant