by Erika Krouse

Nina was a thief, technically, although she never defined herself that way. Stealing was sponsorship. Fighting was the passion.

Street-fighter Nina Black lives by her fists in Denver, stealing wallets and taking advantage of men who try to take advantage of her. This symbiosis is upended when one of her marks, a cop and MMA comeback contender, wants his wallet—and his dignity—back.

Avoiding retribution is difficult enough alone, but it becomes impossible once Nina gets unexpected custody of an orphaned eight-year-old niece she didn’t know existed, accompanied by her long-lost (and ever-vigilant) childhood flame, Isaac. When the situation implodes, only one person can help Nina earn back her life, and prepare her for the fight that might end it.

Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book
Paperback, 2015: 9781940207636
US $15.95 | Fiction
Also available in ebook formats

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Here’s a book with a real fighting heart, and also a real loving heart, and you don’t often see those two things together. Pick up Contenders and give it a read.
Madison Smartt Bell, PEN/Faulkner Award winner and National Book Award finalist for All Souls' Rising
Forget about Katniss, or Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander, and even Zou Lei from Preparation for the Next Life, Nina Black is the real deal—a female antihero who can fight. With wit, parables, streetfights that have you ducking, cheering, and gasping for breath, and a breakneck plot, Erika Krouse has written an intensely entertaining, very funny, highly stylish, and finally moving love story of broken people battling through a dystopian Denver to find each other. Contenders may be the best woman warrior novel ever written.
Baine Kerr, author of Wrongful Death
Erika Krouse’s Contenders is a serious contender for my favorite novel of the year—in fact, my favorite novel in a long time. By turns hilarious, exciting, tough as rusty nails, and blazingly heartfelt, it’s a knockout on every level.
David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Erika Krouse has published fiction in The New Yorker, The Atlantic,, Ploughshares, One StoryGlimmer Train, Story, Shenandoah, and other publications. Her collection of short stories, Come Up and See Me Sometime (Scribner), was the winner of the Paterson Fiction Award, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and has been translated into six languages. Krouse is currently working on a novel and a short story collection, teaching at the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, and working part-time as a private investigator. She lives in Boulder, CO.