"It’s been a long time since I met such a thoroughly normal guy in a memoir…I’d buy him a beer anytime."

Dwight Garner, New York Times

"The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, The Liars' Club by Mary Karr, Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou are among the memoirs that leave you breathless; they're books you keep and don't pawn off on your neighbor's yard sale. Now comes another keeper: Blind Man's Bluff by James Tate Hill."

Kitty Kelley, Washington Independent Review of Books

"Hill sketches these scenes in a spare, fuss-free way…[Y]ou root for him to hold on to the little bit of joy he's found—the colors in his life, for once, sharp and bright."

Tommy Tomlinson, New York Times Book Review

"Disarmingly honest and funny…An inspiring, often incredible story that reminds us of the strength that come from vulnerability."


"Stirring . . . This moving account doesn't disappoint."

― Publishers Weekly



"Tate Cowlishaw, the droll narrator of Hill's fine first novel, may be legally blind, but he's clever enough to realize that the death of Randall "Scoot" Simkins, the dean of Parshall College in Grayford, N.C., was not suicide... [Cowlishaw's] investigation is notable for the bizarre quirks he discovers about his fellow members of the college community—and for the opportunities he finds to share mordant observations about the condition of higher education in America. The dead-on parody of academic jargon and the well-spun plot alone make this mystery worth reading."

Publishers Weekly

"Hill's whodunit exposes a lackluster side of academia with a dry, witty humor, while frequent plot twists keep readers on their toes until the final pages."


"...hilariously funny because it is so true. With its well-aimed satire of academia, its gritty mystery and its blind narrator who sees more than most of us do, this book is great entertainment."

Greensboro News & Record

"A poignant, intelligent critique of academia, wrapped inside a slapstick comedy, wrapped inside a murder mystery. Sound good? It is."

—Travis Mulhauser for Charlotte Observer


"Hill's first trip out of the publication box bodes well for future, funny books. And Academy Gothic might just brighten your day with a few chuckles. How many can say that while reading a murder mystery?"

Charleston Gazette-Mail

"Academy Gothic is the sort of novel we could stand to see more often. It's fun, funny, and still carries a heavy dose of upside-your-head truth. James Tate Hill is a writer with the wit to make a joke and the wisdom not to get carried away with it, and with any luck, this debut is the start of a long career of the same."

—Eric Shonkwiler for American Book Review

"Academy Gothic offers readers a detective novel with a unique backdrop far from the usual gritty landscapes of modern mysteries. With enough humor and drama to keep the pages turning, the novel provides not only a well-told story but an astute look at a world few get to see."

Necessary Fiction

"At the conclusion, the reader instantly wants to start [Academy Gothic] over again, to find all the little connections, to study the text as carefully as Cowlishaw studied the crime, as carefully as Hill crafted his story."

—Rebecca Davis for Story South

"Academy Gothic is a contemporary piece of literature with attitude, humor, and edge. A glimpse into the underworld of school politics, Hill's debut novel is a coolly entertaining read."

—Lavinia Ludlow for Entropy


  • Interview with Lara Lillibridge of Hippocampus about Blind Man’s Bluff, audiobooks, and access for the visually impaired

  • Featured in SmokeLong Quarterly in a piece called "A Cross-country Hike in the Dark: An Interview with James Tate Hill"

  • Discussed the origins of Academy Gothic, genre, process, and my love of Beverly Hills: 90210 in an interview with Writer's Bone

  • Self-interview for The Nervous Breakdown's TNB Self-Interview Series

  • Talk with fellow debut novelist Greg Shemkovitz about genre, publishing, and lessons learned along the path to publication over at Story South

  • Interviewed by the Greensboro News & Record about Academy Gothic and the state of higher education.

  • I was interviewed by Julianna Baggott for her 1/2 Dozen series