The Teahouse Fire


When I was nine, in the city now called Kyoto, I changed my fate. I walked into the shrine through the red arch and struck the bell. I bowed twice. I clapped twice. I whispered to the foreign goddess and bowed again. And then I heard the shouts and the fire. What I asked for? Any life but this one.

Ellis Avery's debut novel, THE TEAHOUSE FIRE, first came out at the end of December, 2006 from Riverhead in the U.S. and in March, 2008, from Vintage in the U.K.

Winner, American Library Association Stonewall Fiction Award
Winner, Lambda Literary Award for Debut Fiction
Winner, Ohioana Library Fiction Award
Kiriyama Prize Notable Book
Booklist Top 10 First Novels on Audio
American Booksellers' Association Booksense Pick

Please ask your local independent bookstore to order a copy, or buy it online from Powell's, Giovanni's Room, Amazon, etc.

THE TEAHOUSE FIRE explores the shifting cultural ground of late 19th century Japan through the story of Aurelia, an orphaned American girl taken in by Yukako, the daughter of Kyoto's most important tea master, herself destined to change the fate of the Way of Tea.

Called "delicious" and "resplendent" by Maxine Hong Kingston, author of THE WOMAN WARRIOR, and "spellbinding," by Emma Donoghue, author of ROOM, Avery's novel was declared "a heady brew" by Liza Dalby, author of THE TALE OF MURASAKI and the only Westerner ever to have become a geisha.

THE TEAHOUSE FIRE is available in Spanish, Dutch, German, Portuguese, and Romanian, and will be translated into Indonesian. An audiobook was released simultaneously with the hardcover edition.

Inspiration for THE TEAHOUSE FIRE came from five years of weekly tea ceremony study in New York and five weeks of daily tea study in Kyoto, where Avery spent most of 2004-2005.

Click here to read a glowing full-page review in the LA Times by Emily Barton, author of BROOKLAND.

Click here to read Avery's American Library Association 2008 Stonewall Fiction Award acceptance speech.

To learn about the writing of THE TEAHOUSE FIRE, you can read Avery's essay on the Powell's Books website, or read interviews with her in Publishers Weekly, Small Spiral Notebook, The Brooklyn Rail, The Contra Costa Times, or KGB Bar Lit.

Click here to hear a clip from the audiobook of THE TEAHOUSE FIRE.

And now online, for your reading pleasure... the first chapter of THE TEAHOUSE FIRE!

If you need one, please click here for a denser version of the cover image.



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© Ellis Avery 2011
banner image by Kunie Kanbara : : : banner design by Lorissa Shepstone