John Domini Online
"A tour de force, a crime novel and at the same time a moving story, A Tomb on the Periphery is wonderful."
— Jay Parini, author of The Last Station
"Earthquake I.D. is a wonderful novel of an old-fashioned sort... a rich feast."
— Richard Ford, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

Dzanc Books now offers electronic versions of John's first four books: the story collections Bedlam and Highway Trade, and the novels Talking Heads: 77 and Earthquake I.D. Bedlam, John's first title, includes a new author's preface and two stories that have never before appeared in any collection.

John strongly supports independent bookstores, and recommends readers use his local, Beaverdale Books of Des Moines. The store is easy to reach off its website or through IndieBound, and will ship anywhere (buyer pays shipping). Otherwise, the books remain available on Amazon and elsewhere.

The Grand McLuckless Road Atlas

John's first book of the poetries, The Grand McLuckless Road Atlas, is out now on Pedestrian Press/Bicycle Review. A chapbook, Grand McLuckless selects from about a decade of John's poetry, and includes a prize-winner. Both print and electronic editions are available.

Blas Falconer calls the book "full of wit and music."

Books & Rough Business

John's translation of Tullio Pironti's memoir, Books & Rough Business, is on Red Hen Press. In Italy, the memoir received over 100 reviews, and plans are in place for a movie adaptation.

George Guida, Italian Americana: "Pironti’s memoir goes beyond cultural history and guidebook. It offers an insider’s perspective ...on Italy’s continuing quest for functionality as a nation.... It tells the story of a man, his city, and his country coming of age...."


The electronic edition, on Dzanc Books, includes two published stories left out of the original, plus a new introduction by the author.

Kathleen Hirsch, in Boston Phoenix: "remarkably resourceful stories, studded with small gems... protean... the realism is stretched taut between legitimatized social violence and deep and genuine pity. ...the fantasy is artfully sketched, its resolution a deeper humanity."

Richard Orodenker, in North American Review: "Impressive... Domini's characters must take flight, return, or escape, [but] learn to deal with the complicated mysteries of the "inner self." ...Domini's vision is a hopeful one... with more than just a little music."

"An impressive first collection. Domini's voice is engagin, insistent, earnest, curious, unsentimental but compassionate."

—John Barth

"John Domini's tales are fantastical forays into a literary land populated by such comic-philosophic devils and angels as those found in Stanley Elkin, Donald Barthelme, and Max Apple. They warble with incantations, lamentations, orations; they sparkle with craftsmanship."

—Richard Price

"John Domini's short stories are characterized by energy, originality, and daring. The energy is, to quote a line from his own work, 'a musical triumph that [is] almost violent.' Indeed, violence lurks just outside the door or in the next room; but it is never allowed to disrupt the subtlety of the fiction."

—Stephen Minot

Highway Trade

Phil Presby in Rain Taxi: "Fantastically tender... very fine pieces of short fiction. Domini [demonstrates] a willingness to cross boundaries... he powers of imagination coalesce and run."

Michael Brennan in The Oregonian: "The stories achieve a powerful effect as they paint succinct and compelling portraits of offbeat souls.... The good, the bad, and the ugly of these characters come to life ...Domini works with a keen and compassionate mind."

Norah Vincent,  New York Times Book Review: "prose poems... swirling... grab hold of both readers and characters."

"Streetwise and pain-acquainted, John Domini's new story-collection is a good rich read indeed."

—John Barth

"His lonely, hard-boiled outsider figures, women as well as men, are shrewd, wary observers of the predatory scene around them, but keep their fierce loves to themselves."

—Jaimy Gordon

"The stories in... Highway Trade reveal as vividly as any in recent fiction the unresolvable tension in American life between being settled and rootless.... In a foggy valley brimming with everything right and wrong about our country, ...characters waver between generosity and good old-fashioned American self-interest, between solidity and oblivion. Domini's is an urgent voice, edgy wild, important."

—Tracy Daugherty

"John Domini's densely textured stories teem with compelling inner and outer life. They move swiftly and sinuously, emerging from the everyday to coil around a reader's heart."

—Floyd Skloot

Talking Heads: 77

Tom Simmons, in the Des Moines Register: "a very fine novel...written with flashy, pop-culture inventiveness.... Nevertheless, this book reminds one of nothing so much as Hawthorne."

Dean Poling, in the Valdosta Daily Times: "Domini manages to say much about the truth, media, and society.... unloads smart observations... in a smartly-told story... with elements of mystery and suspense."

"John Domini has brilliantly turned one of literary fiction's neatest tricks: he has vividly... evoked a past time and milieu—the alternative cultural scene of the mid-70s—and in the process he has illuminated our own times with dazzling clarity. Talking Heads: 77 also manages to be both cutting-edge innovative and splendidly readable. This book is a flat-out delight."

—Robert Olen Butler
author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Pulitzer Prize, 1993

"Talking Heads: 77 reminds us of a generation's crushing loss of idealism. Through an impassioned post-Watergate journalist whose interior angst is articulated in illusory news columns for a fantasized issue of his alternative newspaper, John Domini captures the kind of innocence it once took to believe in our quixotic convictions.... Simultaneously he recreates the visceral disillusionment that had engulfed many of us by the time the 70’s were over."

—Cris Mazza, author of Girl Beside Him and Is It Sexual Harassment Yet?

"Talking Heads: 77 is a bravura performance by John Domini. The novel is exuberant, stylishly written, and nearly pops at the seams with a rich and diverse cast of characters including a drugged-out denizen of the deep, the idealistic editor of a political rag, a pony- riding Boston Brahmin intent on finding herself and shedding her husband, an up and coming punkster who fancies evenings at the Knights of Columbus Ladies Auxilary, an editorial assistant named Topsy Otaka, a single mother with problems, corrupt politicos, you name it. Full of warmth and humor,Talking Heads: 77 is a rollicking ride of a read. Enjoy."

—Frances Sherwood author of VindicationGreen, and The Book of Splendor

Earthquake I.D.

The first novel in John's Naples sequence, Earthquake I.D. appeared in spring '07 and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Richard Ford, an earlier Pulitzer winner, called it "a wonderful novel of an old-fashioned sort...a rich feast." Steve Erickson, author of Zeroville, called Domini "a writer of the world, with a deft talent for negotiating the currents of our age."

The Italian translation, titled Terremoto Napoletano, was runner-up for the Domenico Rea prize, in Italy. A panel of six judges selected the finalists.

John's Italian translator was Stefano Manferlotti, and the press Tullio Pironti Editore, the first Italian house to publish Don DeLillo. In Italy Terremoto Napoletano received a lot of attention. La Repubblica praised the novel as "dense with surprises... with so many stories and characters knit together in rhythm and in harmony." In Il Mattino, Fabrizio Coscia calls it: "a voyage of initiation... that seduces and wounds... in a city unmasked by Domini's style, refined, visionary, and alert to paradox." In Roma, Marco Catizone writes: "captures all the subversive possibilities of language in a kaleidoscope of vibrant sound and image."

American Book Review, Ryan McCray: "Earthquake I.D.ambitiously mines the intersection between show how extremes bring out our truest forms. ...Barb and Jay's story is touching, as good as anything in Talking Heads:77."

Thomas Burke, in a long review for The Literary Review: "a dramatic narrative of cosmopolitan ideas -- social commentary as it should be... a very well told story."

Jason Pettus, Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, gives the the novel 9.5 stars out of 10: "I'm in the presence of greatness... one of the best-written books of our times."

Fred Gardpahe, Fra Noi: "A well focused plot tightly wound... Enough mystery to keep the pages turning while telling a contemporary story that can touch us all."

The Emerging Writers Network, in a four-star review, calls it "a great, jam-packed novel." Bostonia praised how "surprises abound in the political intrigue."

Artscene Iowa described it as "extraordinary... tightly woven," and added "Domini has a knack for creating striking moments... and finds a route toward the essential nature of families."

A Tomb on the Periphery

John's 2008 novel returns to the troubled Naples of '07's Earthquake I.D. but offers something new. It's part crime story, part ghost story, part coming of age, part redemption song, and more, all having to do with Italy's underground market in ancient jewelry. Gival Press selected the manuscript as runner-up for their national award. It's available in all formats.

Tom Verso calls A Tomb on the Periphery"absolutely brilliant," a "proverbial page-turner," and a "crime novel... with all the elements of high literature," the sensitive essay-review is on Il Regno.

Early in 2010, A Tomb on the Periphery made the short list for "the best of international publishing" at the London Book Festival.

Aaron Plesak, in The Collagist. "No object encountered is neutral... we are reminded how a tiny item or gesture may conjure the past... the pleasure is in discovering the characters."

Fred Gardaphe in Frai Noi: "a thoroughly engaging story that stays true to its characters... Domini gets it and gets it right."

Fred Misurella in VIA: "tremendous entertainment value as well as literary heft... A novel of energy and intelligence."

Jason Pettus reviewed Tomb for the Chicago Center for Literature & Photography, saying it compared favorably to Michael Chabon and Cormac McCarthy, "stunning... a fabled rare book." Michael Madison writes "Tomb on the Periphery takes the trappings of noir then transcends the genre... lush and generous."

Linda Lappin in "a flash of authentic Naples.... Extraordinary energy and plasticity... startles, stabs, tickles and at times dazzles."

Dennis Barone, Italian Americana: "Domini's writing might be called projectile-prose. ...he demonstrates a lively, generous mind in action through swift moving, sonorous language."

Janyce Stefan-Cole, Main Street Rag: "As in Orhan Pamuk... The reader is transported to ancient times and modern plights, ...while wrapped up in a suspenseful tale."

Lew Diuguid and Johns Hopkins Magazine select Tomb for their "Shelf Life" column, November '08. "As the sauce thickens... all of the characters take on texture...."

Matt Miller in Des Moines Cityview: "Fabrizzio is caught between his morals and his impulses... A fast-paced crime novel with a little romance." Other brief reviews appeared in The Iowan and  Bostonia.

Italian publication is under contract with Tullio Pironti Editore.

The Sea-God's Herb

 The Sea-God's Herb selects from John's criticism and reviews, published in the New York Times and elsewhere. The long opener, "Against the 'Impossible to Explain:' the Postmodern Novel & Society," got special attention on HTMLGiant and elsewhere. The text covers many areas of culture, but its focus is on litearture.

Publishers' WeeklySea-God's Herb is "poetic" and "fascinating."

J.C. Hallman, Brooklyn Rail, describes one of John's essays as "a thing of beauty," and praised the book as "often charming and ultimately important."

Tom Verso, i-Italy, calls Sea-God's Herb "a significant study of postmodern Americana, and a must read for students of American culture."

Eric Basso, Bicycle Review, says the book is "exemplary" and full of "brilliant interpretation."

David Atkinson, InDigest, praises the "multifaceted approach," the "elaboration and contemplation."

The Sea-God's Herb also led to new interviews, in The Believer and InDigest. The Largehearted Boy site had John  contribute a "Book Notes" playlist.

The Color Inside A Melon

John Domini’s latest novel, the last of the Naples trilogy that began with Earthquake I.D., will appear on Dzanc in 2017. An excerpt, adapted, was the "featured fiction" in Del Sol Review.


John's new set of linked stories, MOVIELOA! is out on Dzanc in June 2016. Blurbs came from David Shields, Sam Lipsyte, Padgett Powell, and others. A number of stories  appeared in different form on Conjunctions, The Collagist, and elsewhere.

Contact John Domini

John is always glad to hear from readers and thinkers:

He has won awards in all genres, and publications include fiction in Paris Review non-fiction in The New York Times, and poetry in Meridian. The New York Times has praised his work as "dreamlike... grabs hold of both reader and character," and Alan Cheuse, of NPR's "All Things Considered," described it as "witty and biting."

John's grants include an NEA Fellowship and a Major Artist Award from the Iowa Arts Council. has taught at Harvard, Northwestern, and elsewhere, and he makes his home in Des Moines.

Photo credit: Camille Renee.