Fourteen tiny tales recount the story of a community of island dwellers who catch their island’s strange and fleeting epidemics—epidemics like memory loss, unrequited love, magic, extrasensitive hearing, talking to animals, and dissociation—and the relationship that the people of the island have with their home, with each other, and with the diseases. That is, until one man becomes immune. Told in the collective first-person, OUR ISLAND OF EPIDEMICS examines the nature of tale-telling when the audience for the tale includes the tellers themselves.

“Unrequited love, dissociation, unstoppably growing hearts, extrasensitive hearing—these are just a few of the epidemics that strike the island at the center of Matthew Salesses’ dazzling collection. The voice of the island’s inhabitants is hypnotic, and Salesses’ exploration of the epidemics and their effect, of the ways we construct history and identity, are surprising and smart and richly, devastatingly human. With Our Island of Epidemics, Salesses has established himself as a brilliant new force in contemporary fiction. I loved this book, and I would gladly follow the author anywhere.”
—Laura van den Berg, author of What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

“One of the great feats of fiction is to create a world where anything can happen. Matthew Salesses has done this with Our Island of Epidemics and, in doing so, he has revealed the great difficulty of the human condition.”
—Michael Kimball, author of Us and Dear Everybody

“In Our Island of Epidemics, Matthew Salesses conjures from the sea a nation populated by a people struck together by one universal affliction after another. This is a citizenry more unified than that of our own land, but also one whose members have nowhere to turn for aid from their various ailments, their short-term memory loss, their unrequited loves, their fits of magic and insomnia and shared dreams. It is only from within their ranks that they might find the means to prevail through a series of charming interventions and endless sincerity, and through the telling of their story, this one one you hold now in your hands, the fantastic tale of those longest and strangest years yet seen upon their island.”
—Matt Bell, author of How They Were Found

“Extended sickness, packed-in sexspace, a she-god named Sam, stone sandwiches, ganglions, weight gain, dookers, spells of fainting: this book about making a book is full of hell, though a giddy kind of hell you might like to read aloud to someone loving, to share its magic logic, its dragonfruit, its rare disease.”
—Blake Butler, author of There Is No Year

“I loved this book. Matthew Salesses creates a new world and pours his entire imagination into it. There’s so much magic. I felt it on my fingertips while reading. I’ll say it again – I loved this book.”
—Shane Jones, author of Light Boxes

“On Matthew Salesses’ strange and infectious Island, dragonfruit have wings and the aftertaste of fire, illness is freedom, dreams are shared, and interventions are staged to stop citizens’ obsessing. You may fall in love with these small stories of free will and fate, but they might not requite you. And while their epidemic of short term memory loss might make it impossible for them to remember you, you will recall them: magical and complex.”
—Kathleen Rooney, author of For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs

“Despite the plague of frustration and hardship that is Matthew Salesses’ Island of Epidemics, it’s a place I’d like to visit, just to live the language and ingenuity of its creator. Salesses is a crack shot in pinpointing how we all cope, nailing this microcosm of humanity within these little stories. They are all fantastic and hilarious and beautiful, well beyond their length, well beyond any island.”
—Michael G Czyzniejewski, author of Elephants in Our Bedroom

“Salesses makes it happen—confidently and with style.”
—Amber Sparks, Big Other

“Much like Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Our Island of Epidemics is richly imaginative in its variations, as we see how affliction after affliction affects these islanders. And, much like the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the strangeness is not really all that strange.”
—Gina Myers, New Pages

“These little tales speak to the strokes of luck and circumstance that shape our destinies.”
—Spencer Dew, decomP

“Despite being born in the post-millennial digital age, these stories could easily have sprung from the oral tradition of ancient Greece.  One thinks of Odysseus stopping at strange islands on his voyage home from the Trojan War.”
—Nick Kocz, The Collagist

“I want you to read this book.”

“Highly recommend it!”
—Lantern Daily, The Paper Cave

Individual stories first appeared in the following journals: Cavalier Literary Couture, Pindeldyboz,PANK,Word Riot, Wigleaf, Necessary Fiction,Corium Magazine,Thieves Jargon, Kitty Snacks, Hobart, and Everyday Genius.

About the artist: Luca Dipierro