Dance on Saturday (Preorder)

Elwin Cotman

New date: August 4, 2020

trade paper · 324 pages · $17 · 9781618731722 | ebook · 9781618731739

Planted deeply in the dark, musical fantastic heart of American storytelling, Cotman’s half dozen tales are ripe for the picking.

Dance on Saturday is a collection of stories about transformation, loss, and human nature. Church-going immortals tend life-extending fruit. Swarms of deadly wasps engineered by a polymath sorcerer battle killer snails. Geese take human form and must survive juvenile detention. A high school, high-stakes volleyball game turns demonic. Heroes and monsters people these exuberant, magical tales.


“Cotman (Hard Times Blues) wields biting wit, powerful emotion, and magic large and small throughout these six superlative stories. From the epic fantasy ‘The Son’s War,’ which wrestles with themes of imagination and greed as a prince creates two automaton companions, one out of diamond and one out of jade, and soon favors one over the other, to the claustrophobic social thriller ‘Mine,’ set at a high school volleyball tournament in Hell as the teen girl players become increasingly cruel and the behavior of the adults around them increasingly inappropriate, Cotman utilizes genre conventions to examine racism, sexism, power imbalances, and hypocrisy. ‘Among the Zoologists’ is a sexually charged fever dream about a zoology conference that blurs the line between humans and animals. The title story is the strongest, imagining a group of immortals with the ability to extend their lives by growing and consuming fruit, in prose that ranges from humorous (‘[She] grabbed the first three Mariah Carey LPs for maximum positive energy’) to lyrical (‘She adored the sight of melons hanging like rotund trapeze artists from their own vines’). Readers will be blown away by this standout tale, which grapples with the responsibility of holding power, and whether that power can, or should, be shared. Cotman’s bold and timely speculative fiction marks him as a writer to watch.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Fun, inventive fiction that refreshes the fantasy genre with elements of black heritage and culture.”
Kirkus Reviews

Table of Contents

Dance on Saturday
Seven Watsons
The Son’s War
Among the Zoologists
The Piper’s Christmas Gift

Reviews & Praise for Elwin Cotman’s stories:

“Elwin Cotman is one of the most original new voices you will encounter—he is a synthesizer of the domestic and the fantastic, of soaring myth and the grittiest realities, of lewd dialect and high lyricism. His stories are profound engagements with suffering of every stripe—they will also make you hoot with laughter. I was amazed by the force of Mr. Cotman’s pinwheeling imagination.” — Karen Russell

“Starbursts of talent . . . and a knack for biting and imaginative language.” — Lauren O’Neal, The Rumpus

“Proves that magic and grit don’t have to be mutually exclusive.” — Christine Stoddard, Quail Bell Magazine

“Cotman’s interests are wide-ranging: Punk rock intersects with D.C.’s Dominican community, African-American folktale intersects with Greek myth, Goth teen suburban angst in 1990s Ohio sits side by side with racist atrocity in the pre-Civil Rights South . . . Yeah, there’s magic in some of these stories, but the real magic is in Cotman’s words themselves—stark and deadpan one moment, lushly descriptive the next.” — Michael S. Begnal, author of Ancestor Worship

“This is not always a comfortable book to read, but it is a magnificent one. The Jack Daniels Sessions EP: A Collection of Fantasies is comprised of short stories and vignettes that flow into one another like the Mississippi rushes over the Delta. Elwin Cotman is a writer, an activist, a performance artist and above all, an impeccable storyteller. . . . With raw and sometimes shocking authenticity, Cotman turns the ordinary into the sublime. There is no pretension here, just a million-watt light shining into corners of the human condition that many people would prefer forgotten, with a large helping of fantastic creatures, classical myth, and modern mayhem.” — Erzebet YellowBoy, Cabinet des Fées

“Elwin Cotman’s carefully wrought, gracefully accomplished, and lyrical narratives range in tone and style from picaresque and carnivalesque to elegiac, ironic, and melancholy. Yet, while tonally distinctive and aesthetically vivid, his stories are not so much driven by style or voice, as they are by love in the largest sense. For love does not exclude chaos nor avoid the vicissitudes of history and neither do Cotman’s socially engaged, brilliantly crafted stories.” — Miranda Mellis

Cover art “Actaeon” copyright ©2020 by Christopher Myers.

About the Author

Elwin Cotman is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Dance on Saturday and two previous collections of short stories. In 2011 he was nominated for a Carl Brandon Society Award. He has toured extensively across North America and Europe. He is at work on his first novel.


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