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Tom Bissell
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Tom Bissell


Tom Bissell was born in Escanaba, Michigan, in 1974. After graduating from Michigan State University, he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan and then as a book editor in New York City. Since 2001 he has been a full-time writer and traveled widely in the Canadian Artic, Central and Southeast Asia, and covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His first book, Chasing the Sea, was published in 2003 and was followed shortly there after by Speak, Commentary, a humor book he coauthored with Jeff Alexander.

In 2005 he published the story collection God Lives in St. Petersburg, and for it was awarded a Rome Fellowship by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine and The Virginia Quarterly Review. His work is often anthologized and has been published in several languages. After nine years in New York City, he currently lives in Rome, Italy, and is working on a book about first-century Christianity and a novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Acclaim for Chasing the Sea

“The humor and poignancy in this blend of memoir, reportage and history mark the author as a front-runner in the next generation of travel writers.” —Publishers Weekly

“Fantastic . . . Bissell proves at the age of 29 he is a maestro of the genre. Read this book and it will be difficult to imagine not traipsing after him wherever he may go in the future.” —Austin American-Statesman

“[Bissell] is an adept tale-teller, and Chasing the Sea is a treasure box of history, folklore, social criticism and digressions on politics and economics.” —Newsday

“First-rate in every regard: to be put alongside such classics on the region as Through Khiva to Golden Samarkand and The Road to Oxiana.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)


Acclaim for God Lives in St. Petersburg

“[Bissell's] wit and dry-eyed compassion are on ample display, along with a precocious capacity for invention that would put most golden codgers to shame. . . .These stories are one more proof of a stunning and prodigious talent.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Graham and Ernest move over, you’ve got company.”—Kirkus (starred review)

 “Terrific...Scabrously funny...Dazzling...'A'.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Bissell has a keen awareness of human loneliness—what O’Connor defined as the mark of great short story writers. . . .[He] reveals himself to be not only a subtle craftsman but also a mordant observer of a new generation lost in a complex and dangerous world.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Gobsmackingly great . . Bissell traverses the landscape of modern war, and he does it with the tough bluntness and literary assurance of a young Hemingway.” —Outside

“Razor-sharp, blackly comic . . . .Bissell always avoids easy cynicism, dotting each bleak plot twist with big-hearted detail and pitch-perfect humor. This is fiction full of
friction . . . [and] it's a thrill to watch the sparks fly.” —Newsweek

“Mercilessly, masterfully nails its target. . . .Astonishing. . .A discipline of craft and sensitivity to place that do for Central Asia what Paul Bowles did for North Africa.” —The Chicago Tribune

“Sharp, captivating . . . A rare treat, transporting us deep within this often-overlooked region, expanding our horizons while never condescending to teach us any
prepackaged lessons.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] sharp, hip collection of stories. . . . The conflation of American consumerism
with the barrenness of the Central Asian landscape gives these stories a striking immediacy….Bissell never flinches as he looks straight into the starved hearts
of his characters.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

“[A] marvelous collection . . . Bissell’s voice is . . . wholly unique—current, but with a world-weariness that has seen horror become mundane. . . . Presented with perfect pitch.” —The New York Post

“Bissell's writing is full of uncomfortable truths, brilliant wit, and dexterous language, skeptical of any and all political ideology.”—San Francisco Bay Guardian

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