Michael Dahlie is the author of two novels, A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living and The Best of youth. A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 2009. Dahlie also won a Whiting Award in 2010. His short fiction has appeared in journals and magazines including Harper’s, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, and Tin House.
Dahlie has also written widely under pen names, including many children’s books and stories in literary journals. His novels for young people have received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and The Horn Book, and have also appeared on several year-end lists, including The Washington Post’s Top Ten Books For Young Readers. Short stories he’s written under pseudonyms have been published in places including The Yale Review, Epoch, Harvard Review, and the The Pushcart Prize Anthology.
Dahlie is an Associate Professor in Butler University’s English Department and MFA Program, and he’s the founder of the Mont Blanc Writing Workshops, held every June in Chamonix, France. He is currently a 2020 NEA Literature Fellow.
W.W. Norton, January 2013.
“Michael Dahlie writes the way Cary Grant used to act, that is, with a seeming effortlessness and grace that is truly maddening to those of us who know how difficult it is.” – Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author of Empire Falls
“After his parents are killed in a freak sailing accident, Henry Lang inherits 15 million dollars and decides to move to Brooklyn to see if he can make it in publishing, perhaps fall in love, and attend the sorts of parties and events he imagines 20-somethings in Brooklyn most likely frequent. Unfortunately, Henry is something of a target for other, more savvy Brooklynites, and he finds himself in a string of increasingly troubling situations and demoralizing romantic adventures. Things finally fall apart for him in catastrophic ways when he agrees to ghost-write a young adult novel for a charismatic but drug-addicted and sometimes-violent actor. Will Henry lose his entire fortune to save his integrity? By turns hilarious and tragic, The Best of Youth is a brilliant modern day comedy of manners.”
Winner of the 2009 PEN/Hemingway Award
“Exquisitely crafted, rife with sorrow and farce, and surprisingly moving.” – Julia Glass, National Book Award Winner of Three Junes
“In this darkly hilarious and moving novel, a bumbling Manhattan blueblood must rebuild his life after his marriage and business fail.”
“Arthur Camden’s greatest talents are for packing and unpacking suitcases, making coleslaw, and second-guessing every decision in his life. When his business fails and his wife leaves him-to pursue more aggressive men-Arthur finds that he has none of the talents and finesse that everyone else seems to possess for navigating New York society. Arthur tries to reinvigorate his life with comic and tragic results: He dates women with no interest in him, burns down his Catskills fly-fishing club, runs afoul of the law in France, and disgraces himself before family members. Just when Arthur hits the depths of despair, an eccentric suitor (a woman who happens to resemble the model on Arthur’s vitamin bottles) helps him take a leap into a wonderful unknown. Michael Dahlie’s novel digs into the consciousness of a self-doubting everyman-a man who, with a little inspiration, just might become something of a brilliant success.”
REVIEWS FOR THE BEST OF YOUTH (W.W. Norton 2013)
“In Dahlie’s thoughtful and delightful new novel, Henry Lang is a fish out of water in the Brooklyn hipster scene. After Harvard, he’s invested a small portion of the $15 million he inherited from his parents’ death in a literary mag called Suckerhead. Despite a romantic rejection by Abby (a fourth cousin), the two visit her aunt’s Vermont farm, where Henry manages to accidentally kill a million-dollar flock of heirloom Libyan goats. Henry finally finds success of sorts when he ghostwrites a popular YA novel for a hot (and drug-addicted) actor who also has eyes for Abby. Poor Henry.” – Billy Heller, NY Post
“This book is terrific,” – Leonard Lopate, The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC Radio
“A Lovable, feel-good novel” – Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
Dahlie “Makes an admirable effort to show us a modern-day Candide” – The New Yorker
“Every young writer can probably tell stories about the chaos and romance of their first year as a working scribe. But Henry Lang, the hero of this novel by Dahlie (A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living, 2008), has juicier tales than most. . . . An engaging novel.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Dahlie offers a biting take on the motivations of some authors entering the young-adult field.” – Booklist
Keep an eye on him: In 2010, the author won a Whiting Award, a seriously coveted prize given to emerging authors — a sign that he could become the next big thing. Plot notes: Sweet, naive Henry Lang is 24 and has $15 million to his name, but he’s a horrible judge of character, especially when a Hollywood A-lister wants to enlist him in a project. Hipster 101: While Henry attempts to blend into the plaid-clad streets of Brooklyn, he accidentally gives an account of how not to be a hipster. – Steph Opitz, Marie Claire
“An audaciously simple, understated novel, operating on a spectrum of benevolence and cruelty, of decency and unscrupulousness. It moves along with an orderly dispatch that suggests that telling a story is a matter of making things shipshape. There is something of the fairy tale here (that’s money for you) and, despite its acerbic characterization of posers and frauds, it is a sunny book, irresistibly so, and a joy from start to finish.” – Katherine A Powers, Barnesandnoblereview.Com
“in a world saturated with horror novels, thrillers and romances, I’ll take page-turning, playfully smart contemporary fiction any day.” – Lou Harry, Indianapolis Business Journal
“The Best of Youth is the second novel by Michael Dahlie and is similar to The Extra Man by Jonathan Ames and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. I thoroughly enjoy Dahlie’s writing style–his vivid characterizations and the lightly humorous situations he puts Henry in signal such an unique voice.” – Lora Bruggeeman, popgoesfiction.com
“Can a person be too good-natured for his own good? This is the question Michael Dahlie asks in The Best of Youth, his sly, thoroughly engaging novel about love, literature, and the strange ways of Brooklyn hipsters. Dahlie is a wonderful writer, with a keen eye for the ridiculous, and a deep affection for his well-intentioned but sometimes clueless protagonist.” – Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children
“Michael Dahlie writes the way Cary Grant used to act, that is, with a seeming effortlessness and grace that is truly maddening to those of us who know how difficult it is. The Best of Youth, his fine new novel, is another infuriating case in point.”- Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls
“The Best of Youth is what Jane Austen would write if she were here, now, inhabiting a brilliant, self-conscious young writer who’d just been orphaned and inherited 15 million dollars. This witty, romantic and irresistible story is a surefire antidote to anyone’s modern malaise.” – Hillary Jordan, author of When She Woke
“Seriously funny. Intensely human. Reminds us that we can be fallible—even ridiculous—and still manage to find dignity, goodness, and courage deep down inside. I loved this book.” – Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook
“I raced through Michael Dahlie’s The Best of Youth, which tumbles headlong through the calamities of a hapless young Brooklynite—it’s funny, moving, and genially moral, a cautionary tale about inherited wealth and a deadpan comic novel about growing up.” – Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It