Title: Acceptable Losses
Published by: Southern Methodist University Press
ISBN13: 978-0870744129



This debut novel tells the story of three teenagers, Joellen, Joe and Charlieo, each coping with loss. Set at the New Jersey shore, the narrative traces the lives of these three young people silhouetted against the tumultuous years that saw the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., and spanned the Vietnam War.


“Of the many authors SMU Press has presented to the public, none is finer than Edra Ziesk, whose Acceptable Losses is one of the best novels I have read in years. It is a marvelous accomplishment from a writer working in a style that is manifestly her own.”
-James Hannah, Houston Chronicle

“Edra Ziesk is a powerful new voice, a master-crafter of words, a storyteller both simple and profound. Make a…resolution to read this extraordinary book.”
-Newark Star-Ledger

“With delicate images ‘as fine as the legs of a spider’ the author charts…a world of startling beauty and grief.”
-The New Yorker

“Acceptable Losses is beach reading in the least obvious sense; although the novel takes place at the New Jersey shore, it is hardly light fare.”
-The New York Times Book Review

“Perhaps the major accomplishment of this novel is that the author manages to transform a…little girl into a young woman the reader cares about enormously.”
-The Dallas Morning News

“…rewards its audience with the beauty, power and magic of words strung together like an iridescent charm bracelet.”

“…as richly imagined as Dickens”
–Kirkus Reviews

“I was snatched up and kept by Acceptable Losses. It’s an absolutely fine novel, ambitious, powerful in the momentum it creates, and populated with characters I really cared about. Ziesk’s prose is electric.”
–Frederick Busch


They are spelling. A list of words is written out on the board, the capitals tall and authoritative, the small letters like strings of humbled children following behind. There is the tick of the teacher’s pointer tapping its way from letter to letter. They are up to words that begin with M now, though it is only October. Rushing, as if the alphabet had to be gotten through by a particular date.
But what about “Aviator?” Joellen thought when they moved on to B from the A’s. What about Assassinate? What about Highwire, Haywire, Havoc? The omissions shocked her, the wordy world shaved down.