"If There Are Any Heavens joins a handful of heartbreaking books written in the white-hot storm of grief. In some ways it is reportage, a document salvaged from the wreckage of our pandemic. In some ways it reads like a play, a monologue unspooling in real time. It is all of these but mostly it is a tribute to a mother, to this body / [which] brought us into the world / ...and now we're going to shepherd you out."
—Nick Flynn, author of This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire
"Nicholas Montemarano is one of our greatest writers, and here, his most moving and urgent book yet. If There Are Any Heavens is a work of cultural criticism, poetry, memoir, and elegy; a vital book of our times, and an impossibly beautiful reckoning. Montemarano refuses to allow the millions lost to a pandemic (and a culture of negligence) to remain anonymous, instead rendering the acute weight of loss, and the vibrancy of personhood, in astonishing detail."
—T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
"Nicholas Montemarano has crafted a striking elegy for his mother through a stunning memoir in verse. This deeply personal poetic field study unspools through tragic pauses, broken moments, and last breaths, capturing a family's journey through Covid-19. Montemarano makes his mother's story more than just a statistic, but a beautiful lament—divine, visceral, and tangible. We find and make the form we need to survive. If There Are Any Heavens is a brilliant, inventive book that has made its own genre."
—Tiana Clark, author of I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood
"Nicholas Montemarano has transformed his grief into a masterpiece that transcends genre. An astonishing achievement, If There Are Any Heavens is timely and timeless."
—Jeannie Vanasco, author of Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl
"Every superlative comes to mind after reading Nicholas Montemarano's If There Are Any Heavens. I don't know of another work that manages to capture so well what it means to both love and say goodbye to the one who bears us into this life. What richness on these pages. It's an honor to be inside its room."
—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World
"A poignant elegy for a beloved mother."
"An absorbing, visceral experience of the pandemic."
"A profoundly moving portrait of a son's love for his mother...If There Are Any Heavens is a book whose substance and form match perfectly. Although Montemarano insists that his memoir is 'not a poem,' his spare, incantatory style is well-suited to his chosen format...Though his story is specific—a description of only one [Covid] death among more than a million—his eloquence transports it to the realm of the universal."
was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens. His first memoir, If There Are Any Heavens, was recently published by Persea Books. He is the author of three novels, The Senator's Children (2017), The Book of Why (2013) and A Fine Place (2002). His short story collection, If the Sky Falls (2005), was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. His stories have been published in Esquire, Tin House, Zoetrope: All-Story, and many other magazines. His fiction has won a Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. He is the Alumni Professor of Creative Writing and Belles Lettres at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, where he lives with his wife and son.
"A brilliant storyteller with a poet's heart." —Claudia Emerson
"An American stylist capable of redeeming our darkest dreams." —Jayne Anne Phillips
"The real thing in a literary landscape of overkill and overhype." —David Means
"A brilliant illuminator of the outer reaches of hope." —Julie Orringer
"One of our greatest writers." —T Kira Madden
"One of my favorite contemporary short-story writers." —Dan Chaon