When Are You Coming Home? Stories

When Are You Coming Home?

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
University of Nebraska Press


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Humans have always connected deeply to the idea of home. In Bryn Chancellor’s nine stories, home means, in part, the physical spaces: the buildings, cities and towns, the fragile, imperious landscapes of the region. But home is also profoundly rooted in intangibles. Set in urban and rural Arizona, home, for the characters in these stories, is love—familial, romantic, and unrequited. It is loss and grief. It is the memories that surface late at night. It is mystery and longing and a shining flicker of hope.

In the title story, a locksmith prowls empty houses and befriends a young mother as he and his wife grapple with a tragedy perpetrated by their son. During an overseas trip, a daughter grieving for her father struggles with her mother’s altered appearance; an irrigation worker meets a troubled teenage girl in the darkness of her flooded yard; and a daughter and her estranged, ailing mother stay in a dilapidated cabin while a mountain lion stalks the woods. Through chance meetings between strangers, collisions within families, and confrontations with the self, these characters leave and return, time and again, trying desperately to find their way home.


“The stories of When Are You Coming Home? illuminate the heightened emotion, seemingly nonsensical decision-making, and sudden insight that often arise during the moments of juncture between our past and present lives.” Reviewed at Chapter 16. Full review here.

“Chancellor’s is a collection to aspire to—it feels cohesive and each of the nine stories, set primarily in Arizona, carries its own weight and import. The humor woven throughout is subtle yet effective. We trust the voice and sensibility, and, most importantly, Chancellor elevates her book through her sensitivity and through an abiding awareness that her characters’ lives are meaningful. This may sound like a simple thing to achieve but it isn’t: she convinces us that these people and what they’re going through matter.” Reviewed in Colorado Review. Full review here.

“Emanating from characters as varied as a remorseful handyman, a bullied wrestler, an out-of-work father, a hair colorist who assaults a wheelchair-bound man, a deserting daughter and others—these masterful and moving stories whisk us to the brittle edge, the place where pain splinters the husk from which understanding emerges.”—Lorraine López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories

“Bryn Chancellor is an amazing, sensitive, and thoughtful writer, one who holds the keys to secret rooms within a story that other writers simply couldn’t find or wouldn’t dare unlock. The depth on display in these carefully crafted, emotionally resonant stories is staggering. Chancellor reaches for the unknown, bright and silver, and you won’t be able to look away.” —Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and The Family Fang

When Are You Coming Home? is a knockout! These nine stories turned me into an emotional pinball, zinging from humor to heartbreak and back again. Bryn Chancellor is the real thing, a true artist and one hell of a storyteller.” —Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow