23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Tom Cooper
© Ali Ghandtschi

Tom Cooper

Tom Cooper was born in 1974 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His short stories have appeared in »Oxford American« magazine, the »Mid-American Review« and »Gulf Coast«, among other publications, and have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize.

His first novel »The Marauders« (2015) steers the reader through the labyrinth of Barataria Bay’s islands on the Gulf coast of Louisiana, not far from New Orleans. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion caused more than 800 million liters (200 million gallons) of crude oil to leak into the ocean over a three-month period. Then came Hurricane Karina, which left even more destruction in its wake. Among those directly affected is 17-year-old Wes Trench, whose mother went missing in the hurricane. Wes blames his father, who failed to evacuate them in time. When their arguments escalate, Wes gets a job with a fisherman who makes his living from shrimping, like most people in the region. However, old Lindquist is in an even more desperate situation: the oil spill is threatening his livelihood, his wife and daughter have deserted him, his prosthetic arm has been stolen, and he has turned to alcohol and pills to drown the pain. However, all of this does not stop him from doggedly pursuing the harebrained idea that the long-lost treasure of a pirate is buried somewhere in the coastal marshes. The characters portrayed here are just as ravaged as the marshy terrain they inhabit. Even though none of them really like living here, they do not believe that there is a way out or that they have options. At the same time the marshy bay is a projection surface for dreams of hitting the big time, which only can be found here, of all places – whether it is finding a pot of gold, as Lindquist hopes, or making loads of cash by growing dope, as the brutal Toup twins are doing. Among this group of strange characters, mired in delinquency, greed and lack of prospects, young Wes is a beacon of hope. And, indeed, he does finally grow up and realize his dream of owning his own boat. Cooper’s narrative style is characterized by constant changes in perspective, switching from one figure to the next, lending the story a high level of dynamism. The dialogues reflect the figures’ desolate existence and resignation, and their living environment is portrayed as a landscape shrouded in mystery – tree stumps with seemingly scornfully grinning faces, birds covered in crude oil, glittering insects. Best-selling novelist Stephen King praised Cooper’s debut as being »rollicking, angry, eye-popping, and fall-on-the-floor funny«.

Cooper also writes plays for television. He lives in New Orleans.


Das zerstörte Leben des Wes Trench
Berlin, 2016
[Ü: Peter Torberg]