PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Iowa, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Portland, OR. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: University of Iowa, Iowa City, director of Iowa Young Writers' Studio; Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, writing coordinator, 2001–04.
AWARDS, HONORS: Fellowships from James A. Michener/Copernicus Society of America and Fine Arts Work Center.
The Best People in the World (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including the New Yorker, TriQuarterly, and Third Coast.
SIDELIGHTS: Justin Tussing, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, begins his debut work, The Best People in the World, in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1972. There seventeen-year-old Thomas Mahey falls in love with his twenty-five-year-old teacher, Alice Lowe. They become lovers, and when Alice tells Thomas that her former husband is threatening her, the couple, along with Shiloh Tanager, Alice's male roommate and the town hippie, travel north to Vermont and then on to an abandoned house on the side of a mountain. They plan to live "off the grid," and Shiloh takes on the role of handyman, but their attempt to grow food fails and winter is approaching. Thomas feels guilty about not contacting his parents, and the remainder of the story reveals secrets and a deeper understanding of the characters' pasts and relationships.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that, "as secrets leak, it is Shiloh we get to know best." Each of the novel's five sections contains hints about religious miracles, and their connection to the characters becomes clear as the story concludes. A Publishers Weekly reviewer described The Best People in the World as an "unsettling but bleakly beautiful debut novel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Review, October 1, 2005, review of The Best People in the World, p. 1051.
Publishers Weekly, September 26, 2005, review of The Best People in the World, p. 60.