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Steve Tomasula

Connection to Illinois: Tomasula grew up along the industrial border between East Chicago and the South Side of Chicago, the locale used as the setting in his novel, IN&OZ. He earned both his MA and PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His book 'VAS: An Opera in Flatland is also set in Chicago and The Book of Portraiture is partially set in Chicago. He currently divides his time between the Uptown Neighborhood of Chicago and South Bend, Indiana.

Biography: Steve Tomasula is a Professor of English with a specialty in Creative Writing and, 20th & 21st Century Literature, at the University of Notre Dame. He was also the Coal Royalty Chair in Creative Writing at The University of Alabama in the spring of 2005 and named a Howard Fellow. He is the editor of Conceptualisms: The Anthology of Prose, Poetry, Visual, Found, E- & Hybrid Writing as Contemporary Art. His essays on literature and art have also appeared widely.

  • TOC - Gold Medal, Best Book of the Year in the eLit Awards; Mary Shelley Award for Excellence in Fiction.

Primary Literary Genre(s): Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

Ascension: A Novel
ISBN: 1573661953 OCLC:

University of Alabama Press 2022

Ascension is a novel about the end of nature, or rather, the end of three “natures”: the time just before Darwin changed the natural world; the 1980s, just as the digital and genetic revolutions begin to replace “nature” with “environment”; and today, a time when we have the ability to manipulate nature at both the scale of the planet and at the genome. The narrative follows three different biologists on the brink of each of these cultural extinctions to explore how nature occupies our imaginations and how our imaginations bring the natural world, and our place in it, into existence.

Ascension is a story of how we continually remake the world and are in turn remade by the new nature we’ve created. It is the story of humans yearning to understand their families, themselves, and the world they live in as it comes to a close, leaving them to anticipate what will follow. Rich in visual depictions of the natural world—from nineteenth century engraving and paintings to twentieth century photography and twenty-first century databases—Ascension uses the materials of three eras to drive home our inability to escape nature, and the ways our fates are irrevocably bound together even as our actions usher in an end-time.

In & Oz /
ISBN: 1892389630 OCLC: 53922556

"In & Oz is a novel of art, love, auto mechanics, and two places: the actualities of the here and now and the desire for somewhere better. Five men and women - an auto designer, photographer, musical composer, poet/sculptor and mechanic - find themselves drawn together when they begin to suspect that the thing lacking in their lives might be discovered in the other place. Against the tension between idiosyncratic art and mass-marketed taste, each works to bridge the gulf between In & Oz by using the medium of their trades: light and darkness; sound and silence-- That is, In & Oz is a story as old as the Tower of Babel and as new as global markets: the story of people trying to reach beyond the limits of language and remake the world. Or at least themselves"--Dust jacket.

Once Human: Stories
ISBN: 9781573661768 OCLC:

FC2 2014

A stunning new collection of stories by a master fictionist, Once Human shows the ways to go beyond standard maps of simple understanding. A manga artist who is afraid that she herself is slipping into a cartoon version of life, a lab technician who makes art with the cloning technology she uses at work, a sociologist hunting for the gene that makes some people want to take risks--these are some of the characters that populate the stories in Once Human. Exploring the spaces where life is shaped by science and the technologies we bring into being, Steve Tomasula's characters often find that the harder they look at the world, the less they can say. The map that emerges from these stories charts the territory of human longing and the failure of poetry, science, and technology to explain the why of the world, if not its how. --

The Book of Portraiture
ISBN: 1573661287 OCLC: Normal :

FC2 Normal : ©2006.

A desert nomad struggles at the close of the ancient world to inscribe himself into life, and centuries later a Renaissance artist attempts to overcome his lowly origins by painting nobility. Throughout Steve Tomasula's arresting tour de force, human beings seek to become what they are by representing it. An early twentieth-century psychoanalyst in search of a cure for sexual neurosis discovers the reflection of his own yearning in a female client, and an accidental community of twenty-first century image-makers connects the pixels to bring their group portrait into focus. Across a canvas that spans centuries, the several narrators of this novel look through the lens of their own time and portray objects of desire in paint, dreams, photography, electronic data, and genetic code. Together their portraits comprise a collage of styles and habits of mind. The Book of Portraiture is a novel about the irrepressible impulse to picture ourselves, and how, through this picturing, we continually re-create what it means to be human.

ISBN: 9781573661522 OCLC: [Tuscaloosa, Ala.] :

FC2, [Tuscaloosa, Ala.] : ©2009.

A multimedia epic about time--the invention of the second, the beating of a heart, the story of humans connecting through time to each other and to the world. An evocative fairy tale with a steampunk heart, TOC is a breath-taking visual novel, an assemblage of text, film, music, photography, the spoken word, animation, and painting. It is the story of a man who digs a hole so deep he can hear the past, a woman who climbs a ladder so high she can see the future, as well as others trapped in the clockless, timeless time of a surgery waiting room: God's time. Theirs is an imagined history of people who are fixed in the past, those who have no word for the future, and those who live out their days oblivious to both. A new media hybrid, TOC re-imagines what the book is and can be --Publisher website.

ISBN: 0226807401 OCLC: 54843571

The University of Chicago Press, Chicago : 2004.

Printed in the colors of flesh and blood, VAS: An Opera in Flatland--a hybrid image-text novel--demonstrates how differing ways of imagining the body generate diverse stories of history, gender, politics, and, ultimately, the literature of who we are. A constantly surprising, VAS combines a variety of voices, from journalism and libretto to poem and comic book. Often these voices meet in counterpoint, and the meaning of the narrative emerges from their juxtapositions, harmonies, or discords. Utilizing a wide and historical sweep of representations of the body--from pedigree charts to genetic sequences--VAS is, finally, the story of finding one's identity within the double helix of language and lineage.