Furnace Creek

By Joseph Boone


Taking its inspiration from Great Expectations, this novel teases us with the question of what Pip might have been like had he grown up in the American South of the 1960s and 1970s and faced the explosive social issues—racial injustice, a war abroad, women’s and gay rights, class struggle—that galvanized the world in those decades.

A guilty encounter with an escaped felon, a summer spent working for an eccentric man with a mysterious past, conflicted erotic feelings for his employer’s niece and nephew—these events set the stage for a journey of sexual and moral discovery that takes Newt Seward to New England, Rome, and Paris—all before returning home to confront his life’s many expectations and disappointments.

Deftly combining elements of coming-of-age story, novel of erotic discovery, Southern Gothic fiction, and detection-mystery thriller, Furnace Creekleaps the frame of Dickens’ masterpiece to provide a contemporary meditation on the perils of desire, ambition, love, loss, and family.

Joseph Allen Boone is the author of three works of non-fiction, a musical adaptation of Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man, and a forthcoming short story collection. A finalist in four international competitions, Furnace Creek is his debut novel. The author is the recipient of Guggenheim, Rockefeller, ACLS, and numerous other fellowships. An endowed professor at the University of Southern California, the author resides in Los Angeles.



“A playful reimagining of Dickens, a tautly plotted thriller, a beautifully observed coming of age story: Furnace Creek is a novel that is as hard to categorize as it is to put down. It seizes you in the opening chapters and refuses to let you go.” - Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Booker Prize Judge and the author of Becoming Dickens

“Joseph Boone has written a page-turning novel, a spirited American retelling of an English classic. The American South is our own Dickensian England, and Boone brings both worlds vividly alive with his ebullient prose. A joyously ambitious debut!” 
- Marianne Wiggins, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominee for Evidence of Things Unseen

“Furnace Creek is a funny, moving, and true rendition of everybody’s story: surviving our childhoods, which can be uniquely challenging if you’re Southern, and queer. Boone is a natural novelist, and Furnace Creek is a genuine accomplishment.”
- Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize for The Hours

“Stretching from the American South to the Ivy League and the dream of Rome and Paris, Furnace Creek is a sweeping, Gothic tale of sex, race, and a young man’s education. I was totally entertained and, most of all, seduced.”
- Viet Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer

"Furnace Creek has everything brilliant novels have: characters we love, a story that touches the reader deeply, and a haunting quality that reaches beyond the pages, informing our current lives. It is also wickedly funny, that rare novel full of charming humor and sharp cultural commentary, masterful at every turn."  - Dana Johnson, Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and author of Elsewhere, California