In the wake of a family tragedy, Nan, a pensive young woman from rural Vermont, moves to New York City for college. As she makes her way through her new urban life, with all its dangers and excitements, she is haunted by the home she left behind, remembered with equal parts comfort and shadow. Over the course of these ten linked stories, readers come to discover a singular young woman, capable of misjudgment and mistake, but one who is strengthened by her own kind of wisdom and bravery. Nan struggles to find her place in the world, but in doing so discovers herself, her strength, and the voice with which her story must be told.

Seven of the stories in Nan were published in the following magazines: Post Road (“Nan”), Narrative (“Liars”), Redivider (“Country House”), Memorious (“Caution”), Guernica (“Forgiveness” and “Compatriots”), and Cousin Corrine’s Reminder (“Plus and Minus”).


“Nan is a gorgeously written, psychologically incisive, slyly funny book, and Nan herself is the perfect foil for the smarmy hypocrisies of the New York literary world:  a seemingly naive country girl whom one underestimates at his or her peril. Bellows is the real thing, the literary descendant of Penelope Fitzgerald and William Maxwell.”

— Kate Christensen, author of The Astral and The Epicure’s Lament

“Nan [is] a magnificently drawn Columbia University undergrad who comes from a sheltered, broken family…In these stories, she faces a world, often complex and underhanded, that she does not (at first, at least) really understand.  The beautiful imagery of the stories, as well as the slow-paced, heart-piercing development of Nan’s character, make these stories not simply delights but, I would argue, necessary reading.”

—Bezalel Stern, The Millions

“Bellows does a fantastic job capturing place, both physical spaces (you can almost read Nan’s personality through her home in rural Vermont) and temporal (being a young woman new to a city, new to college); [he] captures perfectly the lack of ease Nan feels in this [new] world.”
Fat Books and Thin Women, on the story “Nan”

“Bellows’ revealing and enlightening short story ‘Liars’ introduces Nan, a compassionate reader who tends to get lost in other people’s stories. An invitation to read unsolicited manuscripts for a local literary magazine challenges her optimism as she learns to trust her own judgment and intuition [at odds with her] bafflement about her place in the world.”

Narrative Outloud


Nan is published by Harmon Blunt Publishers and is available as an ebook and a limited edition hardcover, with illustrations by me. Click the book jacket above for purchasing information.


On This Day!



(Click to buy)


  My novel On This Day, which was originally published by HarperCollins in 2003 (hardcover) and 2004 (paperback) (see jackets below), is now available in a new paperback edition from Harmon Blunt Publishers, a publishing company that I started with my brother. To find out more about the company, our books, some awesome t-shirts, and general information, click the lion below:


Synopsis from the paperback edition:

When their parents die within a year of each other, eighteen-year-old Warren and twenty-year-old Joan are left in their small coastal town in Maine, no longer as a son and daughter but only as a brother and sister.

As they attempt both to grieve and grow up, things become more complicated--their father's business partner strips them of their rightful financial interest in the family plant nursery, and a suspicious aunt and uncle suddenly reappear in their lives. As Joan turns to her ex-boyfriend for comfort, Warren finds himself transfixed with a beautiful single mother from town.

A moving story of two young people's struggle to make a place and a home from themselves, On This Day is debut novelist Nathaniel Bellows's lyrical consideration of memory--the necessity of facing a family's dark past in order to begin a new life.


“Tenderhearted. Bellows has a warm sympathy for Warren and Joan’s new-found isolation and a clear–eyed respect for the power of the bond between them. Bellows succeeds in making their relationship deeply intimate…commendable.”
—The New York Times Book Review

"A quietly visionary novel about the world created by two orphans."
—The New York Times Book Review (2007)

On This Day has the same buoyancy in the face of tragedy as Susan Minot’s classic Monkeys. On This Day is, in fact, a triumph.”
—The Los Angeles Times

On This Day is a careful, sometimes disarmingly funny novel, capturing in its steadfast brother-sister bond the primitive attachment that Caron McCullers called ‘the we of me’…What is most memorable about the novel, though, is its structure. Seeking to deliver the blow-by-blow desolation of one traumatic year, On This Day telescopes a lifetime of family dynamics into crosscuts between past and present. Because of its stark lack of sentimentality, On This Day conveys the sometimes merciless reality of what Joan and Warren must endure—a loss that includes the bitter fact of their mother’s fondness for the bottle as well as sweeter memories of a childhood that seems long gone.”
—The Boston Globe

“An impressive debut novelist.”
—New York Magazine

“The sensibility that produced [On This Day] has a keen fix on human nature and the ways we seek to celebrate and preserve it.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Intimate…with equal parts dark humor [and] love.”
Daily News (New York)

“Spare and finely wrought…piercing and unexpected.”

“There is an honesty and a directness to this book that makes you…fall in love with its protagonists.”
—Elle Girl

“The teenage brother and twenty-year-old sister who appear in Nathaniel Bellows’s lovely debut novel, On This Day, have other things on their minds. Hovering between youth and adulthood, Joan and Warren must come to terms with their father’s death from cancer and their mother’s subsequent suicide in a small Maine town. While Joan tries to fulfill her role as the responsible elder child, Warren attempts to reconcile his overwhelming sense of loss with an instinct to keep living, as evidenced by his newfound feelings for a mysterious local woman. Despite the dark subject matter, Bellows’s characters are lively and likeable, their difficult path illuminated by unexpected humor and grace.”

“Poet Bellows brings a lyrical voice to his bittersweet first novel. When their parents die within the same year, siblings Warren and Joan attempt to forge new family unit. The death of their father from cancer and the subsequent suicide of their mother leave eighteen-year-old Warren and twenty-year-old Joan in a peculiar state of limbo. Too old to be traditional orphans but too young to be totally independent adults, they learn to rely on each other for both emotional and psychological support. Banding together to safeguard themselves against their father’s unscrupulous business partner and the unwelcome advances of an eccentric aunt and uncle, they undertake the difficult journey to healing and recovery. Underscoring their bitter past and less-than-idyllic family life—revealed in a series of flashbacks—is a pervasive sense of hope for their future. A stirring tale of loss and love from a promising new talent.”


Harmon Blunt Edition
Endpapers for On This Day


Like the HarperCollins hardcover edition of On This Day (below), the Harmon Blunt Publishers edition includes a set of illustrated endpapers taken from the series of drawings I made while writing the book.

Below you'll find versions of the front (left) and back (right) endpapers--each is a composite of two drawings stitched together. For the sake of better viewing, I've reproduced them here with more contrast--they're ghosted in the book. In the VISUAL ARTS section of the site, there are more examples of the drawings, and an explanation of how/why I created them.

These endpapers appear -- along with a short article about the book -- in the March/April issue of Print magazine (page 16).






click image to enlarge

- On This Day -
published by HarperCollins 2003 (hardcover) and 2004 (paperback).


(Click on any of the book jackets to link to Amazon.com.)


Endpapers for On This Day

The HarperCollins hardcover edition of the book (above left) features four of my original drawings, which are used as illustrated endpapers.


click image to enlarge




The Best American Short Stories 2005, edited by Michael Chabon, (Hougthton Mifflin 2005), includes my story, "First Four Measures," which originally appeared in Issue #170 of The Paris Review.