Deni Ellis Bechard is the author of four books: Vandal Love, winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Writers Prize; Cures for Hunger, a memoir; Of Bonobos and Men, winner of the 2015 Nautilus Book Award for investigative journalism; and Into the Sun, winner of the 2017 Midwest Book Award for Literary Fiction. His articles, fiction, and photos have been published in dozens of newspapers and magazines, including the LA Times, Salon, Reuters, the Paris Review, the Guardian, Patagonia, La Repubblica, the Walrus, Pacific Standard, Le Devoir, Vanity Fair Italia, the Herald Scotland, the Huffington Post, the Harvard Review, the National Post, and Foreign Policy. He has reported from India, Cuba, Rwanda, Colombia, Iraq, the Congo, and Afghanistan. Bechard currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Praise for Into the Sun "Into the Sun is a ferociously intelligent and intensely gripping portrait of the expatriate community in Kabul--the idealists, mercenaries, aid workers, and journalists circling around a war offering them promises of purpose, redemption, or cash, while the local Afghans in their orbit negotiate the ever-changing and ever-dangerous politics of the latter stages of the American war in Afghanistan. Brilliant."--Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment "Into the Sun is the sort of book I'm always hungry for--the serious novel in which the guns literally go off. Bechard makes me think of Graham Greene and Robert Stone, which is heady company, indeed."--Richard Ford "Into the Sun is an ambitious novel that succeeds on all levels. It's a riveting mystery-thriller that also probes deeper into the nature of war and the ways in which it attracts and transforms some people. Into the Sun has the propulsive force of a car bomb in the bloodstream, quickening the reader's pulse at every turn, right up to the very last page."--David Abrams, author of Fobbit Praise for Of Bonobos and Men "Of Bonobos and Men is the embodiment of the type of reporting that we dream of reading, but all too rarely encounter--intelligent, engaged, and above all, astonishingly perceptive. Here is a portrait of a nation and the conservationists trying to protect it, rendered with all the necessary complexity to make this book joyously alive."--Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears "Here is the matter of conservation given profound explanation--a searching and knowing consideration that enables an important social and political and cultural struggle in Africa to become a needed lesson for us who live elsewhere to ponder, take to heart."--Robert Coles "Journalist Bechard, a foreign correspondent familiar with war zones, probes beneath headlines describing the Congo as 'a country of such inhumanity that we find it incomprehensible' and finds another, more hopeful reality. . . . Bechard's adventurous travels in the Congo offer spice to this rich, complex account."--Kirkus "For this absorbing report on the BCI's innovative methods, renowned journalist Bechard mingled with Congo villagers and BCI fieldworkers, observing how the conservationists forged alliances with villagers to build new schools and create jobs. In a country torn by unremitting military strife and rapacious mining, BCI's work has also helped slow rain-forest destruction. Bechard's masterful, adventure-driven reporting delivers an inspiring account of an all-too-rare ecological success story."--Booklist "A vivid, inspiring book, imbued with Bechard's keen eye for detail."--Maisonneuve Praise for Cures for Hunger "You haven't read a story like this one, even if your father was the kind of magnificent scoundrel you only find in Russian novels. Bechard is the rare writer who knows the secret to telling the true story. Just because the end is clear doesn't mean the bets are off."--Marlon James, author of A Brief History of Seven Killings "Bechard writes that prison taught his father 'the nature of the self, the way it can be shaped and hardened.' As in a great novel, this darkly comic and lyrical memoir demonstrates the shaping of its author, who suffers the wreckage of his father's life, yet manages to salvage all the beauty of its desperate freedoms. Bechard's poetic gifts give voice to the outsiders of society, and make them glow with humanity and love."--Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen "Bechard has created a moving story of rootlessness, rebellion, lost love, criminal daring, regret, and restless searching. Driven above all by the need to grasp his father's secrets, he has written his narrative in skillful, resonant prose graced with a subtle tone of obsession and longing."--Leonard Gardner, author of Fat City "Cures for Hunger is a poignant adventure story with a mystery. . . . But it is also, perhaps even more so, the story of an artist coming of age. Readers will be reminded of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."--Cleveland Plain Dealer "A poignant but rigorously unsentimental account of hard-won maturity."--Kirkus "Cures for Hunger is flush with tenderness. . . . Much more than a memoir of youthful misadventure, though it contains plenty of that. It's also an exploration of the oppression of lineage, of familial duty, wanderlust, and perennial dissatisfaction, and the most American theme of them all: personal reinvention."--Iowa Review Praise for Vandal Love "A strange and beautiful first novel. . . . A sculpted artifact, built sentence by luminous, surprising sentence."--Minneapolis Star Tribune "A novel you'll want to read slowly, savoring prose that's both lyrical and gritty, able to evoke big emotions with exquisite intimacy."--O, The Oprah Magazine "This is both a road novel and a voyage through time, with each of the book's two parts covering the lifetimes of several family members in an examination of the HerveÌ lineage. Ruminations abound on sex, violence, and the bonds between people. This fiction debut, unfolding in punchy prose, recalls MaÌ rquez with a French-Canadian twist."--Publishers Weekly "In Vandal Love D.Y. BeÌ chard has reinvented the generational novel with innovative brilliance. The book has all the quirky depth of a great HBO series and a line-to-line literary energy that is very rare. This is an enormously impressive debut by a clearly gifted writer."--Robert Olen Butler "Vandal Love is a lyrical, generational story of a family haunted by God who is not above, but is nature-who is in the chromosomes that make for big and small, strong and weak, who is inside exquisitely cruel and hard journeys, who is the squeak of snow under boots in QueÌ bec, or a mosquitoed sweat on a bare, muscled boxer in Louisiana. Reminiscent of Proulx and Doctorow in both sweep and grace of prose, it is hard to believe that Vandal Love, so elegant and accomplished, is only BeÌ chard's first novel."--Dagoberto Gilb "Over a vast yet beautifully coherent canvas, Vandal Love follows the panic and privilege of human longing through an amazing coalition of loneliness and adaptation. These characters--injured but unbowed, broken but enduring--introduce a gifted new writer. Bechard's surety of voice and confident narrative span declare a first rate novel and an eloquent debut."--Commonwealth Judging Panel, 2007