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books and albums

OFF ISLAND (forthcoming January 2020)

"Pure color! Everything must be sacrificed to it," said Paul Gauguin. OFF ISLAND presents two parallel stories about artists who sacrifice. Paul and Mette describe their marriage in 1903; Pete and Molly describe their daily lives in contemporary coastal Maine.

AMPHIBIANS (forthcoming 2020)

Short story collection forthcoming from Leapfrog Press (2020); winner, Leapfrog Fiction Contest. "A compelling, wise and beautiful book."- Ramona Ausubel, contest judge


In this linked short story collection, an amphibious aircraft crashes in Maine, a young girl skinny-dips with her elders, a distraught cruise ship dancer boards a water taxi in Grenada, and travelers to Dubai and Abu Dhabi long for familiar oceans. Back in New England, small town artists try to smudge out their tedium with seaside transgressions. Amphibians celebrates the sensation of feeling not quite right in one's own skin, both on land and near water, at home and abroad.


AMPHIBIANS (forthcoming 2020)


"Funny, fast-paced, and incisive, A Thousand and One Nights captures the performances, large and small, we use to make it through life." -Harcourt

Photo by Lynnette Lucy Najimy


“Irresistibly clever.” -Chicago Tribune


adaptation co-written with filmmaker Greg Eismin

new album: THIS DANCE

THIS DANCE, Lara's first full-length album, a tribute to her favorite jazz and pop songs.

REVIEWS, a thousand and one nights

FROM PROJECT AUTHOR, 3/25/12: "This is the blog chronicling my project to read and review books by authors I've never heard of before...[Dear Lara,]...I read A Thousand and One Nights some time ago, and I just decided to write to you to tell you how much I enjoyed it. You combine the elements of a guilty pleasure novel with the journey of a young woman growing up very well. I hope to read more from you!"


"Sometimes a novel's premise is so out there that it perversely manages to feel like real life, with all its stranger-than-fiction twists and turns. Such is the case with Lara Tupper's debut, A Thousand and One Nights, an alternately hilarious and poignant look at the unsettled state of one young woman trying to make it outside the socially sanctioned college-office-marriage trajectory. Our heroine, a plucky (but not annoyingly so) 22-year-old named Karla, drifts first into a job as an entertainer on the MS Sound of Music cruise ship, then into an affair with a shuffleboard supervisor/nightly musical performer named Jack. When Jack suggests extending their fling to an on-land professional partnership, they quickly embark on a surreal showbiz circuit of hotel bars in such far-flung locales as China and Dubai. Along the way, Karla begins to question her adventure-for-adventure's-sake personal ethos, as well as suffer from the toll exacted by faking enthusiasm for a living. Both an off-kilter take on the conventional coming-of-age tale and a sly commentary on the underbelly of celebrity culture, this truly original book is basically uncategorizable—blissfully so."


"The Caribbean is only one stop on a long journey for the heroine of Lara Tupper's skilled debut. It's 1995, and 22-year-old Karla can't imagine anything better than her new job as a cruise ship singer. Yes, she's surrounded by fakery, and shipboard life can get monotonous, but a cheap thrill is still a thrill. Soon Karla meets Jack, a fellow entertainer, and the two team up professionally and romantically.

As singing duo Northern Lights, Karla and Jack leave the ship to play gigs in the United Arab Emirates then end up at a hotel in Shanghai, trying to pull themselves from the rut into which they've fallen. Karla's back hurts nightly from wearing high heels, and she finds herself unable to connect to the world. She drinks too much, and Jack drinks even more. Finally, Karla makes her way toward a healthier, if less glamorous, life.

All this sounds terribly sad, and it is, but "A Thousand and One Nights" is also funny and insightful and told in prose as resilient as Karla's spirit. Keep an eye on Lara Tupper; she is sure to go far." --Rebecca Oppenheimer, National Book Critics' Circle member


“Cruise ship entertainers fall in and out of love as they take their act from the seas to exotic luxury hotels in Tupper's promising debut….Tupper proves herself a canny observer of the insular world of nomadic entertainers.”


"The mansion of show business contains numerous backstairs and broom cupboards, and Karla, the young heroine of this debut novel, finds herself consigned to one of them when she lands a job right out of college as an entertainer on a cruise ship. Anticipating adventure and romance, she soon realizes that what she has become is a camp counselor with eye makeup. When her shipboard boyfriend, a British guitarist named Jack, suggests that they strike out on their own as a globetrotting lounge duo, she jumps at the chance.... It is...shrewdly observed and redolent of inside information about life behind the door marked 'Private.'"


Cited as "New in Paperback," CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/4/07


"Add [this] title to your must-read list: 'A Thousand and One Nights' by Lara Tupper (Harvest/Harcourt). Tupper's debut novel follows the misadventures of Karla and Jack, second-tier entertainers who team up and sing their way from the cruise-ship circuit to nightclubs in foreign countries. If you thought such a life is glamorous, think again." --Allen Pierleoni


Cited as "NEW IN PAPERBACK: Karla and Jack are a romantic twosome aboard the MS Sound of Music, where they both are musicians. They jump ship and set out for careers as itinerant entertainers, but four years later, Karla is beset by ennui as she looks at her cliched professional life and her slowly unraveling relationship with Jack.

Publishers Weekly said that in this debut novel Tupper 'proves herself a canny observer of the insular world of nomadic entertainers.'"--Donna Marchetti, Cleveland Plain Dealer

From Canada's ELEVENTH TRANSMISSION, 6/5/07:

"Tupper’s language is almost tonal in its simple, unfettered communication of her characters’ conditions and in her
portrayal of their limits as human beings. Each shade of feeling or prick of insight is presented, bare and unashamed;
the reader is free to observe them with the sense that the information is unfiltered, colored only by the most delicate
emotions of the narrator. In A Thousand and One Nights, Tupper presents a steady and detailed observation of a
woman struggling to confront her own illusions."-- Anne Cammon


"Tupper spins whimsical tales..."


"Tupper's debut novel focuses an insightful eye on twentysomething angst. The author accurately portrays the heroine's roller-coaster emotions in a way that will transport you back to your younger days."—Barb Anderson


"Singing around world leads to book" by Giselle Goodman

Lara Tupper will talk about her experiences and her novel during a visit home in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

For full article, see:

(Please see the EVENTS page on this site for accurate reading dates.)


"Lara Tupper...artfully infused her debut novel with lounge singing experiences, duo misadventures and tales of exotic locales. And seriously, she’s not afraid to admit her Manilow love!

In A Thousand and One Nights, Tupper takes the reader on an adventure with Karla a 20-something girl trying to figure out her life while faking the glamorous lifestyle of a lounge singer, which turns out not to be so glamorous. Karla soon finds herself in a relationship and lounge-singing duo with Jack and together they travel to foreign locations. I’ve been on a couple cruises myself, and the behind the scenes look at shipboard life had me clawing for a Kleenex from snorting with laughter.

Tupper’s literary ability is to use humor and sadness to tell a poignant tale of a doomed relationship while still remembering to wow you with little details along the way.

You don’t have to be a lounge singer or even an entertainer to relate to the characters in A Thousand and One Nights. I found little pieces of myself effortlessly written between the lines. If you’ve ever worn a fake smile, or been in a relationship where you depend most on the person you’re growing apart from, you too might find yourself entrenched in Tupper’s book.

Recently, I had a chance to talk to Lara Tupper about her novel, pop culture, travels and her obsession with Barry Manilow…"

(Read the full blog with more pics and the interview with Lara Tupper on Noveltown's blog:


" original, well written adventure of a lounge singer set in exotic locations. I was touched most by the humor within the sadness of the story as the characters isolated by their foreign locations, must depend most upon the person they are growing apart from. I’ll be writing more about A Thousand and One Nights and interviewing Lara Tupper for the Noveltown blog." Matilda Kay of NOVELTOWN


"A relative of mine once said, 'If you want to take a trip – read a book.'

Everyone who picks up a copy of Lara Tupper’s first novel 'A Thou-sand and One Nights,' will be booking passage on one exotic journey – for 1,001 nights.

The work is an excellent passport to faraway lands, from England to Abu Dhabi to China to New York City as well as a window into the complexities of the relationship be-tween Karla and Jack.

The pair meets on a cruise ship, “The Sound of Music,” one in a fleet of vessels that all bear the name of a Rodgers and Hammer-stein musical, and become the sing-ing duo, Northern Lights.

Karla, a 22-year-old Maine girl with dreams of being an enter-tainer, and Jack, of York, England, seven years older, [and, sometimes, it has to be said, a bit of a wanker,] fall in love.

With Jack on guitar and Karla on tambourine, the pair entertain pa-trons of The Blue Bar and the Sky Bar singing tunes from Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel and Carole King to Celine Dion, Abba and Lionel Ritchie.

Tupper’s characters struggle to adapt to one another and the unfa-miliar. On the way, they discover what is real and what is not against a backdrop of smoky bars and drunken audiences of varying ages - and attention spans.

'A Thousand and One Nights' is a poignant, wry and humorous account of a Maine girl seeing the world, and, eventually, her true self."--Lisa Kristoff


"Few young writers can claim the wisdom to pen a novel in the voice of a storied alter ego. But Wesleyan University graduate Lara Tupper can."--David Scales

FROM Wesleyan University's online ALUMNI NEWS magazine:

A Thousand and One Nights cited as "entertaining." --Spring 2007


“Wonderful and incisive, A Thousand and One Nights tells us in a new way what it means to be young and American. Tupper casts a keen, intelligent eye on the contemporary world, its multitude of fakeries and deceits, providing us with a witty, poignant, wholly worthwhile read.”— Elizabeth Strout, author of Abide with Me and Amy and Isabel


“A Thousand and One Nights [is] beautifully understated in its emotional intelligence, and wry and clear-eyed and psychologically astute... This is a moving and accomplished first novel.”

--Jim Shepard, National Book Award nominee: Like You'd Understand, Anyway;Project X, Love and Hydrogen


“Lara Tupper has written an intriguing, often funny, and richly atmospheric novel that follows a young, hipper-than-that couple singing their same-old songs on cruise ships and in the luxury hotels of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Shanghai. It is sharply observed, fresh and authentic in its vision, poignant in its depiction of a couple’s willed façade, and great fun to read. Its keen-eyed view of the strange and cushioned world of entertainers makes for a one-of-a-kind book, fascinating and honest.” —Joan Silber, 2004 National Book Award nominee, Ideas of Heaven

"A surprising look into an unexpected world." --Alison Lurie, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Foreign Affairs

"Lara Tupper’s novel is more than the story of one American woman’s journey through love, the world, and her twenties. It’s an exploration of adventure, desire, and thwarted ambition, one that will resonate with anyone who has ever left her comfort zone or time zone. By turns funny and somber, Tupper moves from the theme park cheeriness of cruise ship musicals to the dark bars of Dubai and Shanghai – with sharp sensibilities and a light touch." --Rachel DeWoskin, Author of Foreign Babes in Beijing

“Lara Tupper's first novel is music to the ear. It's travel, too, full of dark corners and poignant wit, a rich international coming of age, boozy nights and friendship, love. And Tupper is a kind of women's Rick Moody, her heroine more or less enslaved on a cruise ship, singing in too heavy dresses, always making her way home.”—Bill Roorbach, author of Temple Stream, Big Bend and The Smallest Color

“Lara Tupper’s debut novel… is an enchanting tale of disenchantment – both candid exposé, and quest for a truer self. It draws us into the life of Karla, a hopeful, fresh-out-of-school singer, as she enters the bizarre twilight zone of international hotel entertainment: four hours a night, six nights a week, in cocktail lounges from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai. An easy life, her British partner persuades her. But while he slides through it all on booze, it’s for Karla to experience the full mind-warping effects of a thousand and one nights (give or take) belting out ‘Candle in the Wind,’ and ‘My Heart Will Go On.’

The problem of living even half-honestly in a world of routine cheating and of faked performance is a real one, and gives [this novel] its vital center. Lara Tupper is a writer of many gifts, with a terrific story to tell.” —Judith Grossman, author of What Aliens Think

“A Thousand and One Nights lays bare the hopes and hearts of twenty-somethings yearning for success, adventure and love, and coming up just a little shy on all three counts. Their yearning is palpable, and Lara Tupper skillfully delineates their sadness and desires as they play out on three continents and in a host of less-romantic-than-they-initially-seemed exotic locales. A moving account of finding yourself amid the detritus of your dreams.” —CJ Hribal, author of The Company Car

“A clever tale of a young woman’s witty, dissolute, and sometimes desperate tryst with overseas stage-act fame, A Thousand and One Nights shines with the poignant honesty of a pop song singer who can’t quite get her life in key. Tupper has written a delightful first novel.”--Kim Ponders, author of The Art of Uncontrolled Flight