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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination


Revolution is simmering in the heat of battered Central American town Port Tropique, where protagonist Franz Hall is an "intellectual Meursault in a paranoid Hemingway landscape, a self-conscious Conradian adventurer, a Lord Jim in the earliest stages of selfwilled failure" (New York Times). The ineffectual hero spends his days drinking and observing people in the zócalo, and hisl nights involved in an ivory-smuggling operation threatened by impending government siege. Always persistent are memories of Marie and what was lost. In this sinuous narrative of dislocation and remorse, Barry Gifford details Franz's mundanity and the bizarre cast of characters swirling around him.


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“Gifford uses the charged story of … an apprentice smuggler as an occasion for his own literary and cinematic smuggling—from Conrad, Hemingway, Camus, John Hawkes, Howard Hawks, Welles and Ozu, among others—and to discover a new literary form.”

“A poet's nuanced prose runs through Port Tropique … a spellbinding story.”

“A strange, disturbing … intriguing … impressionist painting of a book.”

“Cut from the same cloth as Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness and The Secret Agent, Graham Greene's Our Man In Havana and John Le Carre's The Tailor Of Panama … [Gifford] bends chaos in an orderly fashion and produces a superb reading experience. Nearly thirty years on, the novel's power is as relevant as ever … This is an amazing book, gripping from the first chapter to the last and is one of Gifford's finest works.”


The author of more than forty works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, which have been translated into over twenty-five languages, BARRY GIFFORD writes distinctly American stories for readers around the globe. From screenplays and librettos to his acclaimed Sailor and Lula novels, Gifford’s writing is as distinctive as it is difficult to classify. Born in the Seneca Hotel on Chicago’s Near North Side, he relocated in his adolescence to New Orleans. The move proved significant: throughout his career, Gifford’s fiction—part-noir, part-picaresque, always entertaining—is born of the clash between what he has referred to as his “Northern Side” and “Southern Side.” Gifford has been recipient of awards from PEN, the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Library Association, the Writers Guild of America, and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. His novel Wild at Heart was adapted into the 1990 Palme d’Or-winning film of the same name. Gifford lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Other books by Barry Gifford