Frank Bures


Frank Bures is the author of The Geography of Madness: Penis Thieves, Voodoo Death and the Search for the Meaning of the World’s Strangest Syndromes. His stories and essays have appeared in Harper’s, Aeon, Lapham’s Quarterly, Runner’s World, The New Republic, The Washington Post Magazine and other places. They have also been included in the Best American Travel Writing and selected as “Notable” picks for the Best American Sports Writing and the Best American Essays. He is a contributing writer for The Rotarian and a contributing editor for Poets & Writers. He speaks Swahili, Italian and a few other languages less well and lives in Minneapolis. You can sign up for his news, stories, classes, etc. over at TinyLetter.

Praise for The Geography of Madness:

GoMmech.indd“With The Geography of Madness, Frank Bures has created a literary, thoughtful study that explores the connections between culture and psychology, storytelling and health.  It’s also, to my knowledge, the most pleasant and least painful way to learn about penis theft.”

—Peter Hessler, author of Oracle Bones and Strange Stones

“Frank Bures has some of the widest (and wildest) curiosities of any writer out there. This is a man who truly wants to know the world, in all its strange and beautiful variations. He is fearless in his reporting, generous in his spirit, and brilliant in his prose. I would follow him anywhere.”

—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love  and The Signature of All Things

“Penis theft. Vampires. Black magic. These are not exactly prime ingredients for a hilarious, empathetic travel book, but Frank Bures has pulled off something incredible in The Geography of Madness. In demonstrating how culture-bound concepts of ‘madness’ and ‘sickness’ really are, he reminds us what we human beings have in common, which is to say, we’re all beautifully, fascinatingly nuts.”

—Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter and Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve

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Reviews and Interviews:

The Atlantic: Is My Electric Fan Going to Kill Me in My Sleep?
Rain Taxi: The Fluidity of the Human Brain
The Atlantic:  The Diseases You Only Get if You Believe in Them
New Scientist: Stolen penises and other exotic psychological tales
The Guardian: Is your penis really shrinking?
The Australian:  From penis thieves to voodoo: Geography of Madness
Toronto Globe and Mail: Penis thieves? Voodoo death? Frank Bures suggests such maladies aren’t all in our heads
Meaning of Life TV: Belief-boosted runners and the weird case of Coca-Cola poisoning

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A Mind Dismembered: In Search of the Magical Penis Thieves
The Fall of the Creative Class
Five Hundred and One Pounds (Original Title)
Runner, Interrupted
The Secret Lives of Stories
Teaching a Stone to Fly
Branding Guyana
How to Use a Squat Toilet
Test Day