Populated by wise animals and hapless humans, The Protester Has Been Released brilliantly evokes an end-of-the-world feeling that is equal parts dread and hilarity. In nine precisely rendered stories and a novella featuring the American president’s daughter, Sarbanes takes on the big questions with gallows humor: What is freedom? What is love? What is art? And what does it matter now?
In “Meet Koko,”
the famous signing gorilla spends her nights secretly typing a
hilarious “counter-narrative” onto her researcher’s laptop.
“The First Daughter Finds Her Way” chronicles the quest of a
president’s daughter to keep her father from invading the world’s
nations in reverse alphabetical order. Sibling rivalry turns lethal
in “Who Will Sit with Maman?” And in “Ars Longa,” a Colorado
town riddled with cancer turns to art making in order to cope with
the chaos of the present and the sins of the past. Whether chiseled
into discretely titled chunks, or rendered via extended interior
monologues, Sarbanes’ witty, affective prose deftly locates the
promise of a new society within the shell of the old. A fierce,
funny primer for our time.
“The Protester Has Been Released is a spectacular and subversive collection, made even more so by its deceptive calm and supremely wry style.” --Maggie Nelson
“Exploring the subtle and not-so-subtle disjunctions between the so-called animal and the so-called human world, between police and citizens, between the president and its electorate, between rich and poor, and between humans and the world, The Protester Has Been Released is a funny, humane, and scalpel-sharp collection. Only after you finish do you realize how close these worlds are to our own, and how implicated you are.” --Brian Evenson
“This is a profound book and necessary to the times we are living in now. Sarbanes explores the boundaries between ourselves and animals and Americans and the wider world in ways that illuminate the true issues behind the false ones. We need this book now.” --Danzy Senna
“The Protester Has Been Released gives yet more proof that Janet Sarbanes is a comic genius. She’s also some other kind of genius: these stories and novella range over broad territory, but in every case, Sarbanes is artful, precise, and prescient. Unfortunately, her apocalypse is ours, too. But as the end approaches, she’s terrific company.” --Rachel Kushner
Janet Sarbanes is the author of the short story collection Army of One, hailed by Bomb Magazine as a “stingingly funny fiction debut.” Her new collection, The Protester Has Been Released, was published by C & R Press in February, 2017. Her recent short fiction appears in Black Clock, P-Queue, Entropy and North Dakota Quarterly. Sarbanes has also published art criticism and other critical writing in museum catalogues, anthologies, and journals such as East of Borneo, Afterall, Journal of Utopian Studies and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at California Institute of the Arts.