The Spring before Obergefell


The Spring before Obergefell

A Novel

Ben Grossberg

The James Alan McPherson Prize for the Novel Series

244 pages


October 2024


$21.95 Pre-order

About the Book

The James Alan McPherson Prize for the Novel, AWP Award Series Winner

It’s not easy for anyone to find love, let alone a middle-aged gay man in small-town America. Mike Breck works multiple part-time jobs and bickers constantly with his father, an angry conservative who moved in after Mike’s mother died. When he’s not working or avoiding his father, Mike burns time on hookup apps, not looking for anything more. Then he meets a local guy, Dave, just as lonely as he is, and starts to think that maybe he doesn’t have to be alone. Mike falls hard, and in a moment of intimacy, his pent-up hopes for a relationship rush out, leading him to look more honestly at himself and his future.

Winner of the James Alan McPherson Prize for the Novel, Ben Grossberg’s The Spring before Obergefell is about real guys who have real problems, yet still manage to find connection. Funny, serious, meditative, and hopeful, The Spring before Obergefell is a romance—but not a fairytale.

Author Bio

Ben Grossberg is the author of four books of poetry, My Husband Would, Space Traveler, Underwater Lengths in a Single Breath, and Sweet Core Orchard, winner of the Lambda Literary Award.


“The world of this novel is patiently rendered with language that is direct, unadorned, yet full. The characters are presented with the kind of affection that is rare in much current literature. This is a love story and a growth story and a story about how the world changes and affects our self-definition, confidence, and place within it. The relationships are familiar but not cliché, surprising but not sensational. I love the honesty and openness of this novel.”—Percival Everett, author of James and Erasure

“What I loved about this first novel is Ben Grossberg’s nuanced and truthful depiction of his protagonist. Mike is a gay everyman, scraping by on jobs as a handyman and an adjunct professor as he wrestles with the inertia of middle age and looks for—he’s not sure what. Grossberg gives us a compelling and sympathetic character and is a novelist to watch.”—Wally Lamb, author of She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True

Also of Interest