The University of Wisconsin Press


A Horse Named Sorrow
A Novel
Trebor Healey

· Selection, Over the Rainbow Project, GLBT Round Table of the American Library Association
· Finalist, General Fiction, Lambda Literary Awards
Winner, Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction, Publishing Triangle
· Winner, The James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize

A Horse Named Sorrow is simply, inexorably beautiful. It is sexy, cinematic, the prose itself an absolute joy to read, and often funny as holy hell. It is, at the same time, one of the saddest works I have ever read: piercing, poignant, and memorable.”

—Maureen Seaton, author of Sex Talks to Girls: A Memoir

Award-winning novelist Trebor Healey depicts San Francisco in the 1980s and ’90s in poetic prose that is both ribald and poignant, and a crossing into the American West that is dreamy, mythic, and visionary.

When troubled twenty-one-year-old Seamus Blake meets the strong and self-possessed Jimmy (just arrived in San Francisco by bicycle from his hometown in Buffalo, New York), he feels his life may finally be taking a turn for the better. But the ensuing romance proves short-lived as Jimmy dies of an AIDS-related illness. The grieving Seamus is obliged to keep a promise to Jimmy: “Take me back the way I came.”
And so Seamus sets out by bicycle on a picaresque journey with the ashes, hoping to bring them back to Buffalo. He meets truck drivers, waitresses, college kids, farmers, ranchers, Marines, and other travelers—each one giving him a new perspective on his own life and on Jimmy’s death. When he meets and becomes involved with a young Native American man whose mother has recently died, Seamus’s grief and his story become universal and redemptive.

Trebor Healey is author of the novel Through It Came Bright Colors, a selection of the InsightOut Book Club and the winner of both the Violet Quill Award and the Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award for Fiction. His other books include the novel Faun, the short story collection A Perfect Scar, and a volume of poetry, Sweet Son of Pan.


“Lyrical and sad, Healey's prose uplifts rather than depresses. If you have ever had grief in your life, this will speak to you.” Out in Print: Queer Book Reviews

“A painfully beautiful book. It's also gloriously sexy and . . . among the finest depictions of queer life in 1990s San Francisco. Poetic, tragic, and often euphoric, it's the kind of story that I found myself wanting to live inside of.” The Gay and Lesbian Review

“The novel is unforgettable. . . . Powerful is an understatement. What Healey has created here is a new classic in literary fiction, along the lines of On the Road and Giovanni's Room, which will echo in the heart of his readers like the fading encore of the perfect song.” Lambda Literary

“Healey's sexy, heartbreaking novel is further testament that this talented queer author only seems to be getting better at mastering the fine art of storytelling.” Bay Area Reporter

There is a press kit for this title. Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Of Related Interest:
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A Jewish Journey between Genders
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“Not only a memoir of transgender experience, it’s also a story of family heartbreak and family love; of growth as a teacher and writer; and, not least, of a self deeply connected to God and Judaism throughout a life lived across genders.”—Rabbi Jill Hammer, author of The Jewish Book of Days and Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion


October 2012
LC: 2012009961 PS
284 pp.   5 1/2 x 8 1/4

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Cloth $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-28970-6
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A trade imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press

A Horse Named Sorrow is a great love story, one with political vibrations, the tragic tenderness of Leonard Cohen’s early LPs and novels, and the manic queer energy of William Burroughs’ The Wild Boys.”
—Kevin Killian, author of Impossible Princess

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Updated April 30, 2013

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