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Publisher's Summary

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A collection of raucous stories that offer a “vibrant and true mosaic” (The New York Times) of New Orleans, from the critically acclaimed author of We Cast a Shadow  

SHORTLISTED FOR THE ERNEST J. GAINES AWARD • LONGLISTED FOR THE STORY PRIZE • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—Garden & Gun, Electric Lit • “Every sentence is both something that makes you want to laugh in a gut-wrenching way and threatens to break your heart in a way that you did not anticipate.”—Robert Jones, Jr., author of The Prophets, in The Wall Street Journal 

Maurice Carlos Ruffin has an uncanny ability to reveal the hidden corners of a place we thought we knew. These perspectival, character-driven stories center on the margins and are deeply rooted in New Orleanian culture.

In “Beg Borrow Steal,” a boy relishes time spent helping his father find work after coming home from prison; in “Ghetto University,” a couple struggling financially turns to crime after hitting rock bottom; in “Before I Let Go,” a woman who’s been in NOLA for generations fights to keep her home; in “Fast Hands, Fast Feet,” an army vet and a runaway teen find companionship while sleeping under a bridge; in “Mercury Forges,” a flash fiction piece among several in the collection, a group of men hurriedly make their way to an elderly gentleman’s home, trying to reach him before the water from Hurricane Katrina does; and in the title story, a young man works the street corners of the French Quarter, trying to achieve a freedom not meant for him.

These stories are intimate invitations to hear, witness, and imagine lives at once regional but largely universal, and undeniably New Orleanian, written by a lifelong resident of New Orleans and one of our finest new writers.

©2021 Maurice Carlos Ruffin (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Ruffin isn’t so much interested in New Orleans as he is in his fellow New Orleanians, which is to say his fellow humans - their frailties, struggles, futures, and heart strains.... This is fresh fiction, buzzing with the voltage of the Now.... It’s prose that leaves scorch marks.” (Garden & Gun)

"Sometimes a story - or any short piece of writing - can get by on the strength of a single scrap of language, be it an unusual description or surprising line of dialogue. In the title short story of Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut collection, such a moment comes just after a john approaches a young sex worker on the street and wonders aloud why he’s the only one there. ‘I’m the onliest one you need,’ he hauntingly responds. In The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You - which follows Ruffin’s novel We Cast A Shadow, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner and the PEN/Open Book Awards - the writer traces the lives of a cast of characters living on the margins in his hometown of New Orleans.” (AV Club

"Ruffin turns his penetrating gaze on his hometown, the Big Easy, in a collection Publishers Weekly calls ‘a rich tour of hardscrabble New Orleans.’" (The Millions

What listeners say about The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You

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