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CLOSER TO FREEDOM collects prose & poetry written by incarcerated authors who attended Chris's prison writing workshop.


Who Am I to Judge?, a provocative collection of stories, is now available on Kindle.



 Hilarious and smart. Academic farces don't come any better.

                                    --Richard Russo, author of Straight Man


Chris Belden’s Shriver is a hoot, a farce about mistaken identity set at a writers’ conference where facile poets and pompous novelists declaim, carouse and, possibly, commit murder. In a style somewhere between Evelyn Waugh and Mel Brooks, Belden’s satire lampoons all things literary but also, amazingly, convinces us to care about the fools that these mortals be. 

                                   —Alan Davis, author of So Bravely Vegetative and Rumors from the Lost World  


This picaresque and piquant satire of writers, academics, their quirky characters and content-lacking conferences is reminiscent of David Lodge’s satiric spins on academe. Darkly comic, Shriver also reminded me of Martin Scorsese’s inversion of The Wizard of Oz in the movie After Hours—the obstacles, the quirky characters, the plot turns and pivots. Despite its ability to laugh at the writing world and its daffy denizens, Shriver nonetheless ultimately affirms the essential importance of the word.

                                    --Joan Connor, author of History Lessons and The World Before Mirrors


Chris Belden's people are complex, flawed, and doing their baffled best to navigate their lives. They are fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, husbands, wives, friends, ex-lovers, neighbors and in them, we recognize our own longings, our own bafflement.  But it is Lake Tawaba itself that emerges as the central character: dark, deep, and full of mystery.  This is a quietly beautiful collection of stories.

                                                            -- Dani Shapiro, author of Slow Motion and Family History


The Floating Lady of Lake Tawaba reads like a melody about what seems to be an average tale of an average community. But it becomes so much more and so deeply stirring because of Belden's gift in seeing truth while it eludes others, and finding redemption when all seems hopeless.

                                                            -- Da Chen, author of Colors of the Mountain and My Last Empress


You will devour [I devoured] these wonderful stories. Belden delves deeply into the lives of everyday people who are made memorable by his masterful storytelling. Not only did I laugh out loud at the humor, wit and charm of his writing, I delighted in discovering the subtle connectivity that binds this collection. It’s a book I’ll keep nearby to read again.

                                                            -- Eugenia Kim, author of The Calligrapher’s Daughter

The Floating Lady of Lake Tawaba: Stories


From its first grimly hilarious scene in the economy cabin of a plane headed west, Carry-On takes us on an unforgettable journey through the shifting terrain of a marriage gone wrong. As Caleb struggles to understand what has become of him and his wife, we move through bars and cheap motels, through the stark beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and through intricate layers of memory to approach slowly, inexorably, the darkest regions of anger and love. A powerful novel that tightens like a net around an unsuspecting reader; you will not put it down.

                                                            --Nalini Jones, author of What You Call Winter


To read Carry-on is to enter into the mind of a character as obsessive and compelling as any of Roth’s and as funny and incisive as any of Franzen’s. Chris Belden’s tautly crafted book is chock-full of dark delight.

                                                            -- Rachel Basch, author of The Passion of Reverend Nash


Crisp, smart, funny, Belden's prose seals the deal, delivering on Flannery O'Connor's dictum that great fiction must ‘convince with the senses.’ Carry-On is a seriously good read.

                                                            --Pete Duval, author of Rear View


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