Billie James' inheritance isn't much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn't been back to the South since.

Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father's home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.

Inventive, gritty, and openhearted, The Gone Dead is an astonishing debut novel about race, justice, and memory that lays bare the long-concealed wounds of a family and a country.

A TONIGHT SHOW SUMMER READS FINALIST

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE

JULY 2019 INDIE NEXT LIST

The greatest novels in my world are nearly all placed in Mississippi. The Gone Dead is one of the greatest novels ever placed Mississippi. The southern novel will never be the same after this book.
— Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
Chanelle Benz has the power and grace to make the quiet stunning and the explosive beautiful. The Gone Dead is a wonderous exploration of pain and confrontation of its sources.
— Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Friday Black
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I love this novel for many reasons, its fresh look at the hardscrabble Mississippi Delta, its varied voices that form a chorus around its main voice, Billie, and the mystery at its heart.... [The Gone Dead] feels as old and rich as the delta soil on which it happens.
— Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
Chanelle Benz’s prose is remarkable for its acute intelligence, flawless precision, and startling beauty. This wry, soulful novel reads like a thriller but an intimate one; it becomes both a genuine page turner and a deep character study.
— Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others
Wise and assured, Chanelle Benz’s The Gone Dead plunges the reader into a fraught and complicated homecoming of sorts, the South you return to after a life away, a place you never really knew.... Benz’s prose is insightful and surprising, chock-full of beautiful sentences that demand re-reading.
— James McLaughlin, author of Bearskin