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1559477_10201170994517053_4730336135766789928_oMichael Dahlie is the author of two novels, A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living and The Best of youth. He’s the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, a Whiting Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.  His short fiction has appeared in journals and magazines including Harper’sPloughshares, 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.



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.”

(Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores)




Gentleman's guide Michael Dahlie

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.”

(Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores.)



2009 PEN/Hemingway Award Press Release: “Arthur Camden has run his family’s venerable import-export business into the ground.  Abandoned by his cheating wife, blackballed by the club he helped found, Michael Dahlie’s hero is a lost lamb who can’t do anything right.  Is it too late for this passive middle-aged blueblood to find his place in the world?  Flawless and dazzling, A Gentleman¹s Guide to Graceful Living is a wise and gentle satire that has us rooting for its hero even as we laugh at him.”

2010 Whiting Award Press Release: “The Whiting selection committee was taken with Mr. Dahlie’s  ‘Elegant prose, his splendid control, the entirely satisfying narrative shape of the novel. The understated humor never begs for attention, and there’s a lot of excellent social observation about the kind of Americans we used to see quite a bit more of in fiction.” They observed that the novel had some of the quality of Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, and saw in Mr. Dahlie  ‘A kinder, slightly more mischievous version of Louis Auchincloss — a rarity in our maximalist age, an endangered species.’”

“Exquisitely crafted, rife with sorrow and farce, and surprisingly moving.” — Julia Glass, National Book Award Winning author of Three Junes, in The Louisville Courier-Journal

A “discretely charming book … Mr. Dahlie brings a real sweetness to Arthur’s journey.”  — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“This novel strikes me as the American version of The Fall by Camus. Dahlie writes elegantly and beautifully, which does not prevent him from dramatically delving into the raw terrain of the male psychology.” — Josip Novakovich, author of Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust

A gentleman's guide to graceful living“You will root for this winsome, unique narrator to the very end.” — Mary Cotton, Boston Sunday Globe

“Filled with moments of grace and angst, and an overwhelming sense that compassion matters.”— The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“The endearingly understated story of a New York aristocrat who, under better circumstances, might have wound up in a Louis Auchincloss book. But he is undone by haplessness and self-doubt, rendered with dry acuity of observation. There is no old-money playground where Arthur Camden, congenitally maladroit, is safe from his own ability to bumble.” — CBS News (Summer Reading Picks)

“Michael Dahlie was a cipher to me before I read his wonderful new novel, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living,” and a cipher he shall remain. It’s funny, but not Carl Hiaasen-Christopher Buckley funny. Dahlie takes bigger risks, not pushing down so hard on the pedals, not pulling out the comic stops. He trusts the reader to be smart, relax and laugh. I did, a lot.” — Alex Beam, International Herald Tribune

“No fly fisherman can help but love this brilliant first novel. A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living is filled with ungentlemanly hilarity and ungentlemanly low-jinx, with poignant irony, uncommon wisdom, and shrewd insights into love and fly fishing clubs.” — Nick Lyons, author of In Praise of Wild Trout, Founder of Lyons Press

“Dahlie’s dark humor and light touch elevate this debut about a damaged man determined to make the best of the rest of his life.” — Booklist

“Almost no one could be less prepared for the vicissitudes of moden upper class divorce and dating than the retiring Arthur Camden and watching him navigate these tricky waters is both touching and hilarious. A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living is a reader’s guide to intelligent delight.” — Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

“Michael Dahlie has written a wholly pleasurable and surprising book … a triumph of humorous restraint. He’s created an unlikely but endearing hero in Arthur Camden, and we cannot help but laugh and shudder and cheer as Arthur blunders his way through his rarefied world, which Dahlie renders in sly and pitch perfect detail. It is rare to find a book that is so funny – usually at the expense of its hapless main character – and yet so compassionate as well.” — Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Madeline is Sleeping

“A book as fine as this doesn’t come along often. A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living is very funny, yes, but it’s also tender in a way that amounts, at last, to a kind of elegy. Arthur Camden may get into a muddle, but he is a gentleman, and graceful too. That such rare men can have faith (or at least go on being patient with the rest of us) is the hope this book holds out. That such men still exist is what it seems to propose.” —  Louis B. Jones, author of California’s Over

“Michael Dahlie’s unusual and wonderful new novel, A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living, is a tour de force that manages to combine mellow wisdom with wicked cleverness. The tragicomic adventures of his hero show a feckless Everyman trying to do the right thing, but constantly stumbling against an unreceptive world. Dahlie is an impressive new writer who walks a fine line between compassion and irony, optimism and despair. There were moments when I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I never wanted to stop reading this absorbing book.” — Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Author of The Writing on the Wall

“A Reader will love Arthur at some times, will want to shake him at others, will roar with laughter at some of the situations he finds himself in, will treasure Arthur’s son, will want to shoot some of his friends, and will marvel at Arthur’s patience and what I guess is best described as his fortitude.” — Springfield Republican

“Mr. Dahlie is such a compassionate writer.” —

A “charming, laugh out loud novel.” —

“Dahlie clearly has a knack for distilling a situation and getting right to the heart of a matter … perhaps [the book’s] greatest achievement is that Dahlie elicits sympathy from the reader for a character whose social class does not easily elicit such feelings. Although Arthur is a wealthy, white American male, many readers can appreciate a character who illustrates that the struggle for self-confidence is arduous and lifelong.” —

A “funny, moving debut novel.” —

A “witty and intelligent comedy of manners” — Janice Harayda,


“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,

“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