The Wrong Heaven


By Amy Bonnaffons

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 14, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

For fans of George Saunders and Karen Russell, an “amazing, wildly inventive” collection of stories that straddles the line between the real and the fantastical (Kevin Wilson).

In The Wrong Heaven, anything is possible: bodies can transform, inanimate objects come to life, angels appear and disappear.

Bonnaffons draws us into a delightfully strange universe, in which her conflicted characters seek to solve their sexual and spiritual dilemmas in all the wrong places. The title story’s heroine reckons with grief while arguing with loquacious Jesus and Mary lawn ornaments that come to life when she plugs them in. In Horse, we enter a world in which women transform themselves into animals through a series of medical injections. In Alternate, a young woman convinces herself that all she needs to revive a stagnant relationship is the perfect poster of the Dalai Lama.

While some of the worlds to which Bonnaffons transports us are more recognizable than others, all of them uncover the mysteries beneath the mundane surfaces of our lives. Enormously funny, boldly inventive, and as provocative as they are deeply affecting, these stories lay bare the heart of our deepest longings.

Including the story Horse, as heard on This American Life.


  • "Incredibly fun to read but also full of these frank and wise observations that stuck in my head long after."
    Aimee Bender, New York Times bestsellingauthor of The Particular Sadness of LemonCake
  • "In her amazing, wildly inventive collection, Amy Bonnaffons writes about transformation, each story further complicating the world as we know it. With a style that blends humor and sincerity in such strange, perfect ratios, Bonnaffons reveals the mysteries inside of us, just waiting to make themselves known. The Wrong Heaven, so wondrous, will alter you in all the necessary ways."
    Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang and Perfect Little World
  • "Amy Bonnaffons is the real deal. She's a woman of impossible juxtapositions. Funny and wise, thrilling and disciplined, strange and masterful. Do yourself a favor and read this: you'll be surprised where you find yourself, but you'll never feel lost."
    Darin Strauss, National Book Critics CircleAward-winning author of Chang and Engand Half a Life
  • "Bright and lively... It's in the nonmagical everyday world that Bonnaffons reveals some magic of her own."
    New York Times
  • "God, these stories. I wanted to stop people on the street. I know contemporary writers who can lacerate, and I know others who are funny, and I even know some who can pull off pathos. But I don't know any who can do all three at once -- with mastery, mischief, and meaning -- like Amy Bonnaffons. She gives you a key to that secret room where, for a dear second, everything stops moving so quickly and you get a glimpse of the truth."
    Boris Fishman, author of Don't Let Me Baby Do Rodeo
  • "Like the best storytelling, The Wrong Heaven feels like a gift - warm, intimate, and very, very funny. The characters are messy and vibrant and gloriously flawed, and their transformations are absolutely enthralling. This energizing collection will stay with me - happily so - for a long time. Read it."
    Kayla Rae Whitaker,author of The Animators
  • "These stories are eerie, enthralling, and hilarious. Women grow hooves, carve dolls who talk, have sex (or almost) with angels. Bonnaffons is a masterful chronicler of female desire and its discontents."
    Leni Zumas, author ofRed Clocks
  • "In her first collection, Bonnaffons dazzles and cuts with 10 hilarious and cathartic short stories. Though the pieces vary in tone and format, they uniformly focus on a complex female protagonist. The author employs a modern magical realism, absurd, nihilistic, and playful all at once. Resonant of Alissa Nutting's novels and George Saunders' Pastoralia (2000), Bonnaffons' first collection presents a powerful and fresh new voice."
  • "At once goofy, poignant, and edged with the fantastic, the stories in Bonnaffons's debut collection initially surprise, then turn into one long, delicious rush."
    Library Journal, Starred Review
  • "In the stories of her imaginative and unsettling debut, Bonnaffons creates worlds much like ours, except for the parts that are askew...when Bonnaffons hits the sweet spot between the emotional and physical realities of this world and the odd, askew thing that lets readers see them, the collection is at its best. This is an outstanding, exciting debut."
    Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
  • "Amy Bonnaffons surprises her readers with the truth. Whether her characters are toasting marshmallows over a flaming plastic Jesus, finding freedom in the form of a horse, or lusting after the Angel of Death, their particular lonelinesses and their struggles with their uncooperative selves are always moving and always grant us profound insight into what it is to be human in the twenty-first century. There are many stories in this brilliantly inventive collection that I will never forget, and that I will read again and again over the course of my life."
    Stephen O'Connor, author of Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings
  • "These stories perfectly balance humor, strangeness, and keen insights into contemporary life. And by 'balance' I mean they are unbalanced in just the right way, always surprising, inventive, and deeply moving."
    Gabrielle LucilleFuentes, author of The Sleeping World
  • "Amy Bonnaffons has upgraded magic realism for the modern age. Reminiscent of Kelly Link, Karen Russell, and Chris Adrian, these stories about friendships, marriages, sexuality, and spirituality, beg to be read with a pen for the purpose of constant underlining-for, seen through Bonnaffons' slyly humorous and sharp sensibility, even the most bizarre, heartbreaking, and mundane moments appear precious, interesting, and worth living."
    Kseniya Melnik,author of Snow in May
  • "Amy Bonnaffons' work is a thing of beauty. No language is adequate to distill her tenable, palpable, fleshy characterizations, her absorbing settings, her startling concepts, her crystalline language, her subtle but inexorable action that stops your own world and funnels you down into a world of her creation."
    Reginald McKnight,author of White Boys
  • "Channeling the fabulism of Karen Russell, these offbeat tales are both funny and profound."
    O, The Oprah Magazine

On Sale
Jan 14, 2020
Page Count
272 pages
Back Bay Books

Amy Bonnaffons

About the Author

Amy Bonnaffons’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Kenyon Review, among other places, and has been read on This American Life. She is a founding editor of 7×, an online journal that publishes collaborations between writers and visual artists. She holds an MFA from NYU and currently lives in Athens, GA, where she is pursuing a PhD at the University of Georgia.

Learn more about this author