Bright and Tender Dark

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Product Details
$28.99  $26.96
Bloomsbury Publishing
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.4 X 1.2 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Joanna Pearson is the author of two short story collections and a book of poetry. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery and Suspense, and many other publications. She has won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Awards, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and the Virginia Literary Awards. She lives in North Carolina, where she works as a psychiatrist. Bright and Tender Dark is her debut novel.


"Like any good whodunit, Pearson seeds the story with many fertile leads (a prowling cult, an affair with a married professor), but the book's real mystery is one that won't be resolved in the final twist: Where do we draw the line between devotion and obsession?" --Oprah Daily

"Pearson bursts onto the scene with gripping murder mystery fueled by the craziness internet. Through dual timelines, the mystery unfolds in unexpected ways and truly captures how crime makes us obsessive but also sheds a light on how murders affect those around it who don't make the headlines." --Debutiful, best June debuts

"Bright and Tender Dark is so propulsive that I couldn't stop reading it, but so beautifully and perceptively observed that I wanted to slow down and linger over every sentence. There are many mysteries in this book - most obviously, there's the decades-ago murder of a charismatic college student-but Pearson is also interested in the things we do, and don't, know about the people closest to us, and how we are sometimes strangers to ourselves. Anyone who's ever been obsessed by a crime story will find a facet of themselves in this wise, compelling, and gripping book." --Rachel Monroe, author of SAVAGE APPETITES

"Sensitive, aching, and far-reaching, Bright and Tender Dark explores one death and so many altered lives. Joanna Pearson is an exquisite writer. Her novel will sweep you away." --Julia Phillips, author of DISAPPEARING EARTH

"Bright and Tender Dark is a haunting and lyrical read with the pace of a whodunnit that examines true crime fandom without succumbing to the genre's temptations. Joanna Pearson masterfully intercuts between 1999 and 2019, taking us through the egos of academia, the pull of organized religion, and the possibility of miscarried justice to ask: how and when does a woman's life become a ghost story?" --Becky Cooper, author of WE KEEP THE DEAD CLOSE

"Pearson deftly moves between time periods and perspectives. Smart, assured, and absorbing." --Booklist, Starred Reveiw

"Pearson's rich debut murder mystery gathers potency from its portrait of middle-aged millennial angst and Y2K-era misogyny . . . Where Pearson shines is in her palpable evocation of both decades, and her rendering of the challenges Joy and Karlie face as women. Pearson's gift for texture and emotional resonance mark her as a talent to watch." --Publishers Weekly

"[An] intricate debut novel . . . This is a perfect choice for true-crime readers." --Shelf Awareness