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Cover of Meet behind Mars by Renee Simms
May 2018
Wayne State University Press

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Meet Behind Mars

Renee Simms

In many of her stories, Simms exposes her own interest in issues concerning time and space. For example, in "Rebel Airplanes," an L.A. engineer works by day on city sewers and by night on R-C planes that she yearns to launch into the cosmos. The character-driven stories in "Meet Behind Mars" offer beautiful insight into the emotional lives of caretakers, auto workers, dancers, and pawn shop employees. In "High Country," a frustrated would-be novelist considers ditching her family in the middle of the desert. In "Dive," an adoptee returns to her adoptive home, still haunted by histories she does not know. Simms writes from the voice of women and girls who struggle under structural oppression and draws from the storytelling tradition best represented by writers like Edward P. Jones, whose characters have experiences that are specific to black Americans living in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. One instance of this is in "The Art of Heroine Worship," in which black families integrate into a white suburb of Detroit in the 1970s.

The stories in this collection span forty years and two continents and range in structure from epistolary to traditionally structured realism, with touches of absurdity, humor, and magic. "Meet Behind Mars" will appeal to readers interested in contemporary literary fiction.


Renee Simms, a 2007 graduate of Arizona State University's MFA program in creative writing, is assistant professor of African-American studies and contributing faculty to English studies at University of Puget Sound. She received a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

Praise for this book

"Renee Simms’s 'Meet Behind Mars' is an eclectic, emotionally rich, funny, quirky, and grounded debut from a fresh voice. It is truly a pleasure to spend time among such a diverse roster of African American characters in settings ranging from Katrina-devastated New Orleans to the South China Sea. In these fictions that are, by turns, realist, fabulist, and satirical, women and men search out life’s meaning through work, sex, travel, and family in finely observed moments full of quiet urgency."

Asali Solomon, author

"Renee Simms writes from the heart of our shared contemporary moment. These stories are both easy and hard to read, familiar and frustrating both, this mix compelling throughout. These are African American lives fully offered, and women’s lives in particular. As readers, we cannot emerge from this book unmoved."

Alberto Ríos, author
"A Small Story about the Sky"