“Arnold-Ratliff has a knack for juxtaposing familiar imagery with startling description . . . Francis proves to be a formidable narrator, tough to crack and a morbid pleasure to observe.”

Publishers Weekly

“[Katie Arnold-Ratliff's] undeniably gorgeous prose and ability to launch troubled characters into impossible, tumultuous situations mark her as a writer to watch.”


Bright Before Us (Tin House)—an ambitious debut novel from O assistant editor Katie Arnold-Ratliff—is a nihilistic road trip of a book, full of lyrical, dreamlike prose. It’s also a story that reminds us that love, however deeply felt, is not necessarily pretty or kind.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“The elegance and clarity of Arnold-Ratliff’s prose never wavers. She’s a knockout writer…”
The Austin Chronicle

“There’s something rare in Kate Arnold-Ratliff’s debut novel—some strange, wise blend of compassion and gimlet-eyed insight into human weakness…[Bright Before Us is] a beautifully compelling and utterly original novel.”
Portland Mercury

“A haunting debut novel…”
—The Boston Globe

“With lilting description and deft handling of often-strange scenes, Arnold-Ratliff guides the reader over new, sometimes bloodied, ground on the ancient battlefield of love and marriage.”
ForeWord Reviews

“…There’s plenty to admire about Bright Before Us…the author patiently leads Francis—and us—through the heartbreaking, very human work of becoming an adult and letting someone go.”
—The Rumpus

In Bright Before Us, Katie Arnold-Ratliff writes sentences that have the luminous candor of X-rays, laser-traceries of the human heart. Young Francis is a fascinating and exquisitely drawn character, and the urgency of his story left me breathless.”

—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

“An unmoored man who yearns for a woman he failed, while failing another (his wife), is still able to claim he just wants ‘the lazy momentum of a married evening.’ This duality is central to the author’s creation of the disequilibrium she sustains throughout Bright Before Us. The chilly and unforgiving beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area is a perfect fit for this eerie, impeccably told story.”
—Amy Hempel, author of The Dog of the Marriage

“In Katie Arnold-Ratliff’s relentless debut, the ragged ends of a relationship are set on fire with intense and inventive language, and thrown against a darkened sky.”

—Ed Park, author of Personal Days

“What a rare book! Bright Before Us is an unrequited love story, but it’s also a meditation about the flash decisions we make, or fail to make, and the devastating way they undo us. A remarkable and compassionate debut.”

—Robin Romm, author of The Mercy Papers