“Chelsea T. Hicks’ deadpan dexterous wit can make you laugh and cry in the space of a heartbeat. A Calm and Normal Heart is the book I’ve been waiting for— audacious, tender, and fiercely committed.” —Louise Erdrich, author of The Sentence
“A Calm & Normal Heart is sharp, sexy, and endlessly surprising. An electric blend of playfulness and intensity in Hicks’s prose ignites her characters’ desires. Their stories dazzle and are to be savored. This is a gorgeous collection!” —Deesha Philyaw, National Book Award finalist and author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
“The stories in Chelsea Hicks’s A Calm & Normal Heart are full of quiet truths and wry, soulful secrets. It is a book that doesn’t at all feel like a debut story collection, but rather written with startling beauty and the flawless precision of a master storyteller. It is a genuine page-turner full of sentences so beautiful they demand re-reading.” —Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed
From Oklahoma to California, the heroes of A Calm & Normal Heart are modern-day adventurers—seeking out new places to call their own inside a nation to which they do not entirely belong. A member of the Osage tribe, author Chelsea T. Hicks’ stories are compelled by an overlooked diaspora happening inside America itself: that of young Native people.
In stories like “Superdrunk,” “Tsexope,” and “Wets’a,” iPhone lifestyles co-mingle with ancestral connection, strengthening relationships or pushing people apart, while generational trauma haunts individual paths. Broken partnerships and polyamorous desire signal a fraught era of modern love, even as old ways continue to influence how people assess compatibility. And in “By Alcatraz,” a Native student finds herself alone on campus over Thanksgiving break, seeking out new friendships during a national holiday she does not recognize. Leaping back in time, “A Fresh Start Ruined” inhabits the life of Florence, an Osage woman attempting to hide her origins while social climbing in midcentury Oklahoma. And in “House of RGB” a young professional settles into a new home, intent on claiming her independence after a break-up, even if her ancestors can’t seem to get out of her way.
Whether in between college semesters or jobs, on the road to tribal dances or escaping troubled homes, the characters of A Calm & Normal Heart occupy a complicated and often unreliable terrain. Chelsea T. Hicks brings sharp humor, sprawling imagination, and a profound connection to Native experience in a collection that will subvert long-held assumptions for many readers, and inspire hope along the way.