Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Year of the Rat (2016)

by Marc Anthony Richardson

Print: $18.95
EBooK: $9.95



Winner of the FC2 Ronald Sukenick
Innovative Fiction Prize

& The American Book Award

In Year of the Rat, an artist returns to the dystopian city of his birth to tend to his invalid mother only to find himself torn apart by memories and longings. Narrated by this nameless figure whose rants, reveries, and Rabelaisian escapades take him on a Dantesque descent into himself, the story follows him and his mother as they share a one-bedroom apartment over the course of a year.

Despite his mother’s precarious health, the lingering memories of a lost love, an incarcerated sibling, a repressed sexuality, and an anarchic inability to support himself, he pursues his dream of becoming an avant-garde artist. His prospects grow dim until a devastating death provides a painful and unforeseeable opportunity. With a voice that is poetic and profane, ethereal and irreverent, cyclical and succinct, he roams from vignette to vignette, creating a polyphonic patchwork quilt of a family portrait.


“Even the most challenging of transgressive writers pales in comparison... Technically a novel, it will make all but the most experimental of readers throw it across a room.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Trust me, you've never read anything like Marc Anthony Richardson's Year of the Rat, and you must stop everything you're doing right now and make time for it. Gorgeous, unsparing, heartbreaking, the book is a prose poem of a testament to motherhood, to manhood, to lost generations, to hope itself.”
—Cristina García, author of King of Cuba and The Lady Matador's Hotel

“In language that is at times phantasmagoric, at times ribald, and always beautiful, Marc Anthony Richardson's debut novel astounds. Bold, provocative, and ambitious: we have a new, indispensable voice in American letters.”
—Micheline Aharonian Marcom, author of Three Apples Fell from Heaven and The Mirror in the Well

“Richardson has found a way to describe in words the inability to understand other people—he uses dense prose that circles on itself and leaps from present to flashback, depicting a muddled mind at work...once readers enter the story it's easy to be swept into its stormy momentum, and to acknowledge the very promising start of the author's career.”
Publishers Weekly


A video of the award ceremony is available to view online, here, at CSPAN. See the 1:10:00 mark for Richardson's speech.

Marc Anthony Richardson's debut novel, Year of the Rat, is the winner of The American Book Award! The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America's diverse literary community. The purpose of the awards is to recognize literary excellence without limitations or restrictions.


As the sun descends I see now not all of our quality time will be spent during the day, there will be quality nights as well: from birth to my fourth year I will sleep by her side, yet from my fourth to my seventh her bed will become a privilege. For whenever the man is home, for the child fathers the man, I will grapple almost nightly with bed sheets as though battling apparitions, and whenever the lights are left on, at breakfast table with spear in hand, fiercely will he rise up the issue of the electric bills. But there will be many stormy nights when she will let me sneak abed under the extenuation of fear, and never will she stir although lightly will she sleep: she will feign sleep until I fall asleep and follow suit, waking me only to crawl away before the man rises. There will even be nights when she will go to bed unclothed to wait for the little thief, for her sadness would have metastasized and she will confide in me; on such turbulent nights under the guise of subterfuge, aside the man who sleeps like a rock under sea, under the touch of an antenna her little cockroach, she will allow me admittance into the wonderful creases of her being. All except one. For when I’ll try to quest this only then will she moan and stir, only then will I surcease. Pray for storms. For on one night when I am seven she will be in remission, and several of those antennas will glide several times inside that awful region as agents of pollination to return an eternity later, radiant and redolent of the magnolias once whiffed in the American South.