In search of meaning amid America’s sedated upper middle class, a cynical college graduate forgoes medical school and moves to inner-city Chicago. When he falls in love with a woman uncompromisingly devoted to her community, he finds himself caught between two lives, one he does not want and one he cannot have. Soukup’s Bliss is “The Graduate” of our time.
Praise for Bliss
“Soukup’s characters are like tidal waves, the changes in their lives build quietly, grippingly, and crash into the reader with real force. He writes about longing and youth, duty and family with wit and clarity. I’ve read him for years, and while Bliss may be his debut, it is just a glimpse of the gifts he has to offer.”
– Kyle Ellingson, whose short stories have appeared in CutBank,The Carolina Quarterly, Hobart, Redivider, and Chicago Quarterly Review.
“Bliss is just one of the emotions pulsating within Soukup’s impressive debut novel. With its finely wrought sentences and painstakingly crafted characters, this book—and its unlikely hero, Connor —traverses the gamut of human experience: Frustration. Despair. Joy. Rage. Hope. And most of all, Love. Or, “near-Love,” perhaps, for the world around him and the world within him. Readers will recognize Connor’s story and they will hear Soukup’s voice.”
– Matt Callahan, St. John’s University
“Fredrick Soukup’s Bliss sets a swift pace from the outset that readers are happy to keep up with as we follow each step taken by Connor, a young man pulled by opposing forces in his elusive search for certainty about his proper place and purpose. Both disaffected and enticed by the bourgeois values of his upbringing, Connor commits himself whole-heartedly to the unfamiliar world of struggling inner-city youth and then, with as much conviction, to the middle-class life he had left behind. We believe in the sincerity of his attachment at each stage and feel the lure of both settings and of the two women he loves. Soukup paints the characters quickly and vividly with prose that sounds like poetry. We are not allowed to enter their minds directly but understand their mentalities thoroughly through their actions and well-crafted dialogue. The novel is full of activity, but the real achievement is the evocation of an internal struggle for an authentic way of life.”
-Scott Richardson, St. John’s University, author of The Homeric Narrator and Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles: The Enigma of Francis Crawford
“In Bliss, Fredrick Soukup has put together a story of loss and longing in simple language that drags the reader into the story, wrapping them in want and worry. His characters are rich and deep and inescapable.”
– William Alton, author of The Tragedy of Being Happy
“Bliss is deft, moving, and sharply observed, seamlessly weaving together the affluent, superficial world of the suburbs with that of an inner city neighborhood pulsing with energy and danger. But if Frederick Soukup’s novel is a skillful evocation of time and place, it also tells the timeless story of a young man on a quest to find out where—and with whom—he belongs.”
-Laurie Ann Doyle, author of World Gone Missing, winner of the Alligator Juniper National Fiction Award, and the 2018 Nautilus Award Winner