AMUSEMENTS is a gallery of illustrations, advertisements, art, and other relics and news from the turn of the century. And follow Timothy Schaffert on Twitter @timschaffert.

--A film adaptation of "The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters" is in development by Plug Ugly Films. Screenplay by Michael Sladek ("Con Artist," "BAM150"), who will also direct. Produced by Sladek; Joseph Kings ("Towheads," "28 Hotel Rooms"); Paul Schnee ("August: Osage County," "Winter's Bone," "The Help"); Mark Steele ("Cutie and the Boxer," "Howl").

--Timothy Schaffert's short story, "Lady of the Burlesque Ballet," was the debut edition of Ploughshares' new digital-first series of short fiction, and listed as one of the "distinguished stories of 2012" in Best American Short Stories.

--Some recent interviews and blog posts:

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The Swan Gondola (Riverhead/Penguin)

"…the book's shimmery sense of magic and mystery is bringing comparisons to Erin Morgenstern's 'The Night Circus.' … it's time for [Schaffert] to become a household name."

—Library Journal, "Award Worthy Literary Authors"

"The Omaha World's Fair of 1898 comes to gritty, yet magical life in this enchanting new novel, a mystical tale of love, loss and spiritual reincarnation."

—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times–bestselling author of "The Aviator's Wife"

"A fresh, gorgeous, witty page-turner full of twists and surprises and all the romance in the world. I couldn't put it down."

—Jami Attenberg, New York Times–bestselling author of "The Middlesteins"

"'The Swan Gondola' is a highly imaginative, vividly told tale of whimsy, hucksters, soothsayers, ghosts and, most of all, star-crossed lovers."

—Cathy Marie Buchanan, bestselling author of "The Painted Girls"

"Every page of 'The Swan Gondola' shimmers with exquisite detail. Timothy Schaffert has brought a whole universe to life. Reading it, the magic of the day comes alive, complete with seers and balloons, with corsets and lipstick, love letters and the ventriloquism of romance."

—Emma Straub, author of "Laura Lamot's Life in Pictures"

"Schaffert's picture of the fair is enchanting, from the buildings that shimmer with "shattered glass that had been dusted over the whitewash" to the midway attractions, including a theatre where Cecily and Ferret briefly hang from wires and dance in midair. … there are many romantic and historical delights here … it's easy to imagine this charming novel attaining Water for Elephants–like popularity with readers."

—Publishers Weekly


The Coffins of Little Hope (Unbridled Books)

  • Featured on Studio 360, with Kurt Andersen (with a reading by Lois Smith of “True Blood”)
  • A Boston Globe pick of the week
  • An Indie Next pick, American Booksellers Association
  • A Midwest Connections selection, Midwest Booksellers Association

“…this is a witty, sometimes profound story about media, mortality and rash acts undertaken in the name of love.”

—People magazine (4 out of 4 stars)

“‘The Coffins of Little Hope’ is like an Edward Gorey cartoon stitched in pastel needlepoint. Its creepiness scurries along the edges of these heartwarming pages like some furry creature you keep convincing yourself you didn’t see.

—Washington Post

“Schaffert is a master at mixing the serious and the absurd.”

—Time Out Chicago

“… a smart, droll and gleefully morbid story of an unsolved small-town mystery.”

—Dallas Morning News

"Mr. Schaffert's sly wit and frank affection for his characters can make him sound like a very American Alexander McCall Smith."

Janet Maslin, New York Times

"sublime Piercing observations and sharp, subtle wit make this a standout."

Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Simply adored Timothy Schaffert's 'The Coffins of Little Hope': the voice of Essie, the narrator, is terrific & the last line blew me away."

Nancy Pearl (of NPR)

"it's an entertaining read with deeply human wit and ease and élan. The dialogue is right on the money, and Schaffert does such a good job of placing the reader in the scene that I could swear I've been there before. I took my time reading it to savor all the little delicious moments it offers."

Barbara Rixtine, Lincoln Journal Star

"The word 'exquisite' gets thrown around too easily when a book's unflashy, carefully wrought, and beautifully written, but well, this one really is."

Emily St John Mandel, The Millions


Devils in the Sugar Shop (Unbridled Books).

  • A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
  • A Book Sense pick—American Booksellers Association
  • A Midwest Connections selection, Midwest Booksellers Association

"This novel of desire, longing, love, and enduring friendship is like an expensive box of chocolates: each silken morsel is luscious and approvingly decadent, and with every bite you don't necessarily know what you're going to get."

Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Sugar Shop is essentially a comedy of errors; it’s all about who knows what when, and who else is trying to prevent them from sharing that information with so and so. Schaffert writes with precision and charm, and does Omaha some serious justice."

Time Out Chicago

“…consistently surprising and vibrant…Schaffert walks an uneasy line between the amusingly sexy and the scabrous.”

Publishers Weekly

"I made the mistake of reading Devils in the Sugar Shop with a bad case of whiplash. Timothy Schaffert had me in agony and loving every minute. What a poignant, hilarious, deliciously perverse twist on the old school of Southern charm. Men should not be allowed to write women this well.”

—Joni Rodgers,
author of Bald in the Land of Big Hair

"…Devils in the Sugar Shop, stocked with stiff cocktails, drag queens, and sexcapades, is as delectably campy as its title suggests…"


"There is a lot to like about Timothy Schaffert’s novel, Devils in the Sugar Shop. Set in the American heartland and populated by a richly rendered cast of women, it reads like a short story and is a model of compact story-telling. Lives unfold and come undone over a few days of an Omaha winter and though the specifics would make soap writers envious, it’s all so tightly wrapped up in the end you might feel like slapping a bow on it… a rather sweet and quirky story that leaves readers wanting more."

X Factor

"Sugar Shop is a hilarious and smart tale that begs for a sequel. And maybe even a Showtime series."

IN Los Angeles Magazine 

“… a hilarious yet poignant story… reminiscent of Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters…”


“Schaffert has a good eye for the myriad ways we allow ourselves not to see our complicity in the difficulties of relationships, whether sexual or parental, and he’s able to mine this with good humor and wit.”


“These unique characters, none of them mean-spirited, come to terms with the challenges they face, putting aside their cherished fairytale endings in favor of the practical demands of maturity. With broad humor and a talent for the inanities of modern life, the author’s spirited protagonists face their failed dreams with equanimity, celebrating the absurdities of the human condition, an endless capacity for forgiveness and the willingness to endure for the sake of those we love.”


The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God (Unbridled Books)

A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick for spring 2006, and a Pulpwood Queens Official Book Club Selection.

“… any of Mr. Schaffert’s characters is a country song waiting to happen. … With one tip of the hat (through Hud) to Larry McMurtry, another that ought to go to Richard Russo, Mr. Schaffert creates a comically mopey little burg full of whimsical dreams.”

— Janet Maslin, New York Times

The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God showcases Schaffert's uncanny talent for combining the mystical and the realistic. Set in modern-day Nebraska, it nonetheless has a dreamlike quality, reminiscent of both a religious conversion and an alcoholic stupor at the same time.”

— The Barnes and Noble review from Discover Great New Writers

“A totally whacked-out yarn about a divorced couple who still haven't quite split up, Schaffert's book is both ruthlessly funny and utterly compassionate about his characters' ridiculous aspirations—the main character sings country songs in a Ramada Inn, dreaming of making it big—and tragic limitations.”

— Meghan Daum,

“Nebraskan’s second novel impresses with its strong, eccentric characters and author’s obvious warmth for them.”

Kansas City Star, from the list of the Star’s 100 Noteworthy Books of 2005

“Laced with hope and an aching sweetness, [The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God] is as whimsical and smile-inducing as its title. Readers will fall for Hud, his family, and the one-off inhabitants of the quirky little town from page one owing to Schaffert's homey yet elegant and precise prose. The only reason to put the book down is to make it last. Highly recommended…”

— Library Journal (starred review)

“Schaffert has wit and a lovely writing style.”

— Entertainment Weekly


The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters (Unbridled Books)

Winner of the Nebraska Book Award

“… spirited, offbeat… [Schaffert] creates a colorful, not unduly precious world in which everything seems to mirror the sisters’ idiosyncrasies. … Like his characters, Mr. Schaffert grew up on a farm in Nebraska and seems to have cultivated a sense of exquisite boredom mixed with wry humor. His book is likably attuned to its geography. … he displays an outlook well suited to the paradoxical.”

— Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“…boondocks-Gothic … quietly tragic… Set among the failed farms and roadside ruins of small-town Nebraska, the novel is a series of vignettes in the lives of two sisters on the cusp of adulthood. … The sisters lose their childhood innocence only to acquire an adult version, in which growing up requires them to abandon all faith and conviction. As long as the sisters have each other, nothing else matters.”

— The Washington Post

“One has to admire an author who sets his first novel in rural Nebraska. That landscape was put on the literary map a century ago by Willa Cather … in The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters by Timothy Schaffert, a narrative both sweet and audacious unfolds, encroaching Cather’s pinnacle just a bit. … I wanted to know what becomes of these brave and funny sisters. The descriptive gifts of the author are great.”

— United Press International

“Timothy Schaffert writes of connections made, connections broken, connections longed for. His writing is gritty and down to earth, and yet, he writes poetic images of powerful and painful beauty that transcend any earth-bound tether. Two sisters, powerfully joined even when far apart, move through seemingly unfathomable events, trying to make sense of their world, as it was, is, and will be. Schaffert is an estimable guide through their haunted existence.”

Glenn Raucher, Literary Arts Coordinator, The Writer’s Voice New York

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Coming soon.

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High-res images suitable for print use


Timothy Schaffert. Photo by Rodney Rahl. Right click save as


Timothy Schaffert’s latest novel, “The Swan Gondola” [Riverhead/Penguin], is a story of love and ghosts set among the flimflam men, snake-oil salesmen, occultists, and actresses of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair. Schaffert is the author of four other novels, all from Unbridled Books: “The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters,” “The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God,” “Devils in the Sugar Shop,” and “The Coffins of Little Hope.” His work has been a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers selection, an Indie Next pick, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. He teaches in the English Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is the director/founder of the (downtown) Omaha Lit Fest, and is a contributing editor to Fairy Tale Review.


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You can contact me at and follow me on Twitter @TimSchaffert

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