'An extraordinary debut' (ANN PATCHETT) to fall for - a coming-of-age story and an immersive love story.
Eager to clean up his act after his troubled early twenties, Owen has returned to Kentucky to take a job as a groundskeeper at a small college in the Appalachian foothills, one which allows him to enrol on their writing course.
It's there that he meets Alma, a Writer-in-Residence, who seems to have everything Owen doesn't - a prestigious position, an Ivy League education, and published success as a writer. They begin a secret relationship, and as they grow closer, Alma, from a supportive, liberal family of Bosnian immigrants, struggles to understand Owen's fraught relationship with his own family and home.
Exploring the boundaries between life and art, and how our upbringings affect the people we can become, Groundskeeping is at heart a love story - a novel about two very different people navigating the turbulence of an all-consuming relationship, and the complications which can ruin it.
Lee Cole was born and grew up in rural Kentucky. He's a 2019 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he was awarded the Maytag Fellowship and taught courses focused on rural and Appalachian fiction. Lee was in the same class at Iowa as Brandon Taylor, Kiley Reid and Pam Zhang. He was recently selected as a 2020 Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellow. He lives in Queens.