God Gave Us the Animals and Jack Sprat’s Wife: Two Novels
John McManus is a fiction author who was born in Knoxville in 1977 and grew up in Blount County, Tennessee, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.Artist Bio
Author John McManus Creative Capital project comprises two novels. The first one, Jack Sprat’s Wife, looks through the eyes of an American reporter at gay refugees in South Africa. The protagonist, Bosie Darling, is an idiosyncratically brilliant journalist who winds up fictionalizing non-fiction stories. A self-styled gay-rights pioneer, he convinces himself that effecting change is good even by means of false reporting, and that he’ll stoke useful outrage. When he’s commissioned to cover Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, he holes up in an expensive Kampala hotel writing a piece of pure fiction that wins an award for non-fiction. As a result, he’s assigned to a project in Cape Town, where his interview subjects cue him into the harm he’s doing, his hypocrisy, and the enormity of the problem he’s lied about, even as he lies further to keep the original lies from unraveling.
McManus’s second novel, God Gave Us the Animals, is about a millenarian white terrorist in the Smoky Mountains named Obie Mantooth who appropriates Cherokee identity. A self-styled religious genius, Obie invents a violent cosmology with himself at the center. Not only does he indoctrinate his young son Link into his violent worldview, he raises Link in isolation to believe he’s Cherokee.
John McManus is the author of four books of fiction: Stop Breakin Down, Born on a Train, Bitter Milk, and his story collection, Fox Tooth Heart, was published by Sarabande Books in 2015. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Fulbright Scholar grant, the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award and residencies at Yaddo, Ucross, Djerassi and elsewhere. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Oxford American, The Literary Review and Harvard Review, among other journals and anthologies. He directs the MFA creative writing program at Old Dominion University in Virginia, and also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Goddard College. He serves as a contributing editor for Fiddleblack, a literary journal dedicated to writing with a strong sense of place.