OUTSIDE IS THE OCEAN: WINNER OF THE 2017 IOWA SHORT FICTION AWARD
"Not for the faint of heart, this collection is relentless and intense, but Lansburgh’s prose offers stunning moments of tenderness amid its stark depictions of loneliness. Arresting and pointed."
─ KIRKUS, August 2017
"Matthew Lansburgh has a keen eye and ear, and he puts them to great use in this lovely and, frankly, mesmerizing linked collection. Outside Is the Ocean is a gem."
─ ANDRE DUBUS III, Judge, Iowa Short Fiction Award
"Matthew Lansburgh's Outside Is the Ocean is one of the best short story collections I've read in years. It's sharp and funny and it sweeps the reader along through the lives of a cast of difficult and damaged characters. But there are no villains here; the joy of reading Lansburgh's stories is that he keeps spinning his characters around, finding tenderness alongside their abjection, compassion alongside hurt, until finally the people in this book feel as human and real as anyone you've known."
─ PAUL LA FARGE, author of The Night Ocean
"The linked short stories in Lansburgh’s debut collection comprise a moving portrait of the book’s central figure, Heike . . . Lansburgh reveals Heike’s complexity through exquisite imagery: Heike’s too-tight bikini, which she calls her “orange knockout,” is emblematic of both her confidence and her exhibitionism. Recurring details lend cohesion, while the settings—zipping from 1993 to 1967 to 2019—give the collection a novel-like scope. Lansburgh’s linked stories succeed as a nuanced character study and a resonant commentary on the challenges of romantic and familial love."
─ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, August 2017
"Spanning years and perspectives, the 15 linked stories in Lansburgh’s ambitious collection, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, reveal the world of a fractured family . . . Lansburgh has crafted a unique, captivating debut."
─ BOOKLIST, October 2017
"Every so often a work of fiction presents us with the great gift of an entire life. What Matthew Lansburgh has given us here, like the points of a constellation, is the breadth of a family, across many decades, through all their hardships, unspeakable heartbreaks, and small victories. Outside Is the Ocean is a book full of grace and endurance. It’s an exceptional debut, and we’re lucky to have it in this world, now."
─ PAUL YOON, author of Once the Shore and Snow Hunters
"A brilliant collection."
─ MARGOT LIVESEY, author of Mercury and The Flight of Gemma Hardy
"Only the hardest-hearted will be unmoved by this graceful and empathetic chronicle of fractured family life."
─ PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, October 2017