Cote Smith is the author of Hurt People: A Novel (FSG Originals, 2016), which was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. He grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, and various army bases around the country. He earned his MFA from the University of Kansas. His work has been featured in One Story and FiveChapters. Smith lives in Lawrence, Kansas.
Hurt People (FSG Originals, 2016)
Finalist for the PEN/Robert Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction.
It’s the summer of 1988 in northeastern Kansas, an area home to four prisons that has been shaken by the recent escape of a convict. But for two young brothers in Leavenworth, the only thing that matters is the pool in their apartment complex. Their mother forbids the boys to swim alone, but she’s always at work trying to make ends meet after splitting with their police-officer father. With no one home to supervise, the boys decide to break the rules.
While blissfully practicing their cannonballs and dives, they meet Chris, a mysterious stranger who promises an escape from their broken-home blues. As the older brother and Chris grow closer, the wary younger brother desperately tries to keep his best friend from slipping away.
Beautifully atmospheric and psychologically suspenseful, Cote Smith’s Hurt People will hold you in its grip to the very last page, reminding us that when we’re not paying attention, we often hurt the ones we claim to love the most.
Praise for Hurt People:
"[A] very special first novel . . . Writing with extraordinary grace and tenderness, Smith injects unnerving tension into a delicate coming-of-age story set squarely in the path of a tornado."
—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“A violent debut told with startling intimacy . . . [Hurt People] is the strangest breed of page-turner, one that’s plotted like a thriller but plays like a hymn.”
—Liz Cook, The Kansas City Star