Professor Francis Kauffman has unwittingly landed himself in prison where he’s faced with an insurmountable task: execute a fellow inmate. Charged with igniting a political insurrection amongst his students at a university in Beijing, Kauffman is sent to the notorious Kun Chong Prison, where his existence grows stranger by the hour as he struggles with the weight of his imprisonment and his incurable need to write about it in a place where art is forbidden, and the inmates must act as executioners. As cultures clash in his filthy, crowded cell, it soon becomes clear that he’s destined for a labor camp…or worse. In this surreal and brutally honest literary thriller, Kauffman reflects on the turbulent family history that brought him to China, where he leads a solitary, expat life of soulless insurance jobs and all-night writing binges, only to wind up fighting a battle for his life inside the walls of Kun Chong.
Winner of the Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction, Ted O’Connell is a writer and musician whose creative products have been featured in literary magazines, taverns, and music halls throughout the country. He plays mandolin with the Prozac Mountain Boys and guitar with The Scarlet Locomotive and has twice served as a visiting professor in China. Originally from the Chicago area, Mr. O’Connell lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and daughter. He has been a regular visitor to Door County for the past twenty-five years.