Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Gerald Duff  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1938 in Beaumont, Texas

-- Website --
-- Gerald Duff on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Duff lives in Lebanon, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

In addition to writing fiction, poetry, and scholarly works, Gerald Duff has taught literature and writing at Vanderbilt University, Kenyon College, Rhodes College, and Johns Hopkins University. He has published eleven books, including ''Indian Giver'', finalist for the Great Lakes Colleges Association First Novel Award, and ''Fire Ants'', which was a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Jesse Jones Award for the 2007 Best Book of Fiction. His other books of fiction and poetry have won the St. Andrews Prize for Poetry and the Cohen Award for Fiction, and have been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Texas Institute for Letters Award, the University of Michigan Literary Fiction Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Prize.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

William Cobbett and the Politics of Earth
ISBN: 3705204742

Longwood Pr Ltd. 1972

A ceremony of light: Poems
ISBN: 0904675041

Interim Press. 1976

Calling Collect: Poems (Contemporary poetry series)
ISBN: 0813007119

Univ Pr of Florida. 1982

Indian Giver
ISBN: 0253139996

Indiana Univ Pr. 1983

Sam Houston Leaping Deer struggles to adjust to a new way of life when he leaves the Indian reservation and becomes a star basketball player at the University of Illinois

Graveyard Working: A Novel
ISBN: 1880909154

Baskerville Pub. 1994

Two elderly East Texas sisters who have lived together all their lives and have learned the hateful, necessary contours of their shared existence gather with townspeople for the annual cleanup of the graveyard where family, friends and lovers lie buried.

That's All Right, Mama: A Novel
ISBN: 1880909332

Baskerville Pub. 1995

The fictional biography of Elvis Presley's identical twin brother follows Jesse Garon Presley from his childhood in Tupelo with Mama to doubling for the ailing King on stage

Memphis Ribs
ISBN: 0966452011

Salvo Pr. 1999

Memphis in May. The International Barbecue Contest, the Cotton Carnival, and now two murders. And it is all on the shoulders of failed cotton farmer and current Memphis homicide detective, J.W. Ragsdale, to solve both crimes before the tourist start leaving in droves. J.W. and his partner, Tyrone Walker, sift through an unusual cast of characters, ranging from black gangs dealing crack, to an heir apparent son of Southern aristocracy, and to the newly crowned Maid of Cotton. To make matters worse, someone is intent on turning out mass market bad barbecue, the unpardonable sin in Memphis. Through all this, a power struggle for gang leadership has left bodies strewn about the bluff City. Wondering if agrarian fever might not be so bad, J.W. Takes the investigation to his home country, the Mississippi Delta. What he finds could change his life forever...or end it.

Snake Song
ISBN: 0966452089

Salvo Press. 2000

Book by Duff, Gerald

ISBN: 1588380297

NewSouth Books. 2001

Waylon McPhee, middle-aged and divorced, moves back in with his widowed father in hopes of coasting through another year. But his father is dating again, and his sisters are trying to manipulate Waylon into asking their father for their inheritance before he gives it to a second wife. The sarcastic Waylon, juggling his relationships and responsibilities caustically but light-heartedly, hangs on hoping to recover something he lost in his youth: enough momentum to reach escape velocity. By turns humorous and melancholy, this novel cruises to a conclusion where all its characters satisfyingly reap what they have sown. Gerald Duff is a splendid writer of sparkling dialogue, and has perfect pitch for the ennui of contemporary life in the suburbs of the petroleum-chemical corridor that stretches along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Mississippi.

Fire Ants and Other Stories
ISBN: 1588382087

NewSouth Books. 2007

Publisher’s Weekly hailed the “wit and subtlety” in Gerald Duff’s fiction as “simply satisfying as a tall cold one on a hot Gulf Coast afternoon,” and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazetter said “Gerald Duff’s dialogue is among the best being written, and his sense of the absurd is Portis-like.” This new collection of short stories by the author of Coasters (2001) features the Ploughshares Cohen Prize-winning story “Fire Ants.”

Blue Sabine: A Novel
ISBN: 0913785342

Moon City Press. 2011

Blue Sabine is a story of five generations of women in the same family, told in their voices, along with those of some men of Holt blood. It is set along the Sabine River, which divides the state of Texas from Louisiana and the Deep South. From 1867 (when the Holts first came to Texas) to the present, the novel chronicles the emotional lives of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and nieces, all bound by kinship and history. Each comes to terms with being a woman in the West, in Texas, and in her own way and her own time. In its flow and its setting of boundaries, the Sabine River comes to reflect what remains and what changes in the way the Holt women see their world and themselves. "The river forever flows, and it pulls at all it touches," one of the characters says, "yet it never leaves, and it never stays." Two twenty-first century descendants give the narrative its overall shape and connection: Clement, an award-winning movie director, and his cousin Kay-Phuong, a woman of Vietnamese and Holt lineage, who has made herself into a fashion model and actress. They have returned to the Valley of the Sabine, where the Holts have lived for almost two hundred years, to hear once more the old stories and to confirm their own part in the saga. They seek to understand and to play their role in the continuing telling and retelling of the narratives that bind them to their family and to the past.

Home Truths: A Deep East Texas Memory
ISBN: 0875654355

Texas Christian University Press. 2011

Novelist Gerald Duff grew up both in Polk County, in Deep East Texas, and in Nederland, near the Gulf Coast, two drastically different areas in terms of social and economic status, and the way they interact. These communities shaped the way Duff thought and lived, causing him to build up certain false personae to fit in with the crowd. These changes and more are described within the pages of Duff’s new memoir, Home Truths: A Deep East Texas Memory.

From dealing with intrusive family members to judgmental classmates to marital bliss and misery, Duff’s memoir describes situations familiar to anyone who has ever lived in a small town. Experiences unfamiliar to the youths of today include growing up during World War II and the descriptions of propaganda tactics, hunting for your own meals, and dealing with the social mores of the 1950s and 1960s. Other occurrences however, such as working a summer job and the awkwardness of first dates, speak to people of every generation, young and old.

Early in life Duff learned to tell lies as a survival mechanism against his meddling family and occasionally cruel classmates. He describes the ordeal of hiding both his domestic situation and his talent for the written word. Duff’s talents for lies and half-truths helped him not only to discover a hidden talent within himself, but also a future career.

Dirty Rice: A Season in the Evangeline League (Lousiana Writers Series)
ISBN: 1935754130

Univ of Louisiana at Lafayette. 2012

In the midst of the Great Depression, minor league baseball thrives in small-town South Louisiana, where the Evangeline League, named in honor of Longfellow's heroine, draws hundreds to dirt fields and grandstands in places like Jeanerette, Abbeville, and Opelousas. In 1935 Gemar Batiste, a talented young pitcher from Texas, is recruited to try out for the Rayne Rice Birds, makes the roster, and immediately begins garnering fame for himself, his team, and the league.

But Gemar is not the same as his teammates and opponents, and his skills on the diamond cannot erase those differences. He grew up on a reservation in Texas, an Alabama-Coushatta Indian dreaming of hurling strikes in the big leagues. During his season with the Rice Birds, Gemar is asked to play the stereotypical Indian and enticed to cheat, which goes against his view of the diamond as a sacred place of honor. Constantly challenged as he tries to protect his identity as an Alabama-Coushatta and uphold the integrity of the game, Gemar like the Evangeline League's namesake comes to embody loss, perseverance, and commitment.

Much like minor league baseball itself, the story of Gemar Batiste's season in the Evangeline League is a work of satire, humor, tragedy, and triumph.

Decoration Day: And Other Stories
ISBN: 1936205564

Stephen F. Austin University Press. 2012

Decoration Day and Other Stories ranges in locale from the piney woods of Deep East Texas, to the mean streets of Memphis, to the suburbs of Washington, DC. Highly comic and deeply serious, the collection reaches from the late 19th century to the present day. The title story centers on elderly sisters striving to save an unjustly accused man from a lynch mob, while at the same time fetch home a wagonload of flowering bushes to commemorate their dead in the family cemetery. Captive to private delusions and bound to dreams of what ought to be, each character in Duff's eleven stories struggles for escape, redemption, and the healing power of memory.


Cohen Prize for Fiction from


and the St. Andrews Prize for Poetry Award of Merit by the Philosophical Society of Texas in 2013 and the best novel about Texas published in 2011 for

Blue Sabine

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Contact literary agent

Bob MeCoy 66 Grand Street, Suite One New York, NY 10013 Tel 212-226-1936 Email