A Calm and Normal Heart: Stories (Unnamed Press)
From Oklahoma to California, the heroes of A Calm & Normal Heart are modern-day adventurers—seeking out new places to call their own inside a nation to which they do not entirely belong. A member of the Osage tribe, author Chelsea T. Hicks’ stories are compelled by an overlooked diaspora happening inside America itself: that of young Native people.
In stories like “Superdrunk,” “Tsexope,” and “Wets’a,” iPhone lifestyles co-mingle with ancestral connection, strengthening relationships or pushing people apart, while generational trauma haunts individual paths. Broken partnerships and polyamorous desire signal a fraught era of modern love, even as old ways continue to influence how people assess compatibility. And in “By Alcatraz,” a Native student finds herself alone on campus over Thanksgiving break, seeking out new friendships during a national holiday she does not recognize. Leaping back in time, “A Fresh Start Ruined” inhabits the life of Florence, an Osage woman attempting to hide her origins while social climbing in midcentury Oklahoma. And in “House of RGB” a young professional settles into a new home, intent on claiming her independence after a break-up, even if her ancestors can’t seem to get out of her way.
Chelsea T. Hicks’ writing has been published in the LA Review of Books, Paris Review, McSweeney’s, the Believer, The Audacity, Yellow Medicine Review, Indian Country Today and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MA from UC Davis. She is an enrolled member of the Osage Nation, and lives on ancestral land in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"A Calm & Normal Heart by Chelsea T. Hicks is a marvel of storytelling and unlike anything I've read before. At the intersection of tradition and technology, past and present, these vivid and absorbing Native characters fill the pages of this extraordinary debut with tenderness and humor." —Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Sabrina & Corina and Woman Of Light
“Unabashedly contemporary, A Calm and Normal Heart documents and channels messy, sexy, people dealing and not dealing with the complex reverberations of our American past in a relentless now. Hicks never shies from the restlessness of racial, sexual, and cultural identity; she embraces her characters’ fragility and obstinacy with an unbound language that is as savvy as it is openhearted.” —Lucy Corin, The Swank Hotel
“Chelsea T. Hicks’s warm, sharp, and searching debut is both a contemporary feat of decolonial poetics (which hopefully will inspire more and more works written in and translated from indigenous languages) and a closely observed, often wryly comic collection of short stories that feels as alive in-the-process-of-
“A Calm and Normal Heart is a fresh and wholly original collection from a shining new star in the firmament of contemporary literature.” —Carla Crujido, Co-editor of Nonwhite and Woman: 131 Micro Essays on Being in the World
"These stories will break your heart and make you want to dance. Chelsea T. Hicks delivers a striking debut." —Toni Jensen, Carry