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“A beautiful mix of genre and literary fiction. The dialogue and prose snaps, crackles and flows down the page at a breakneck pace. Smith has put together a wild, comedic romp with literary overtones.”

- Tony Nesca, author of Junkyard Lucy

“Reading Vern Smith is to be reminded that urban America is more than the sum of its con jobs; it is a texture built of rips and stitches, a circus tent under which some of its wackiest animators hold forth -- from Phyllis Diller to Carl Stalling, from Erich Sokol to Ishmael Reed. The Green Ghetto is electric, eccentric, extracellular madness.”

- Michael Turner, author of Hard Core Logo and The Pornographer’s Poem

The Green Ghetto


Vern Smith

Mitchell Hosowich is pleased as a puppy with two tails that the great American rust out has rendered parts of Detroit rural again, wild. For him, the “Green Ghetto,” as the bureaucrats have come to call it, is a safe place to grow some fairly decent Detroit dope. But when two DEA agents start sniffing around his spread, only to wind up dead, Mitchell finds himself with a lot of explaining to do. Left with two stiffs, a dead dog, a shot cow, and fifty-nine missing marijuana plants, Mitchell decides not to wait around for the law to come down on him. Instead, he goes after his stolen pot, a chase that becomes a tense, and at times hilarious, cross-border road trip to nearby rural Canada. Set in a hyper post-9/11 culture, The Green Ghetto explores the universal theme of being compromised. But mostly, it is the story of how America got there from here in the war on drugs, terror, and words.

The Green Ghetto is a story with pulp fiction themes and snappy urban dialogue that propels you along a fast track with desperate characters living on the periphery of a Detroit society teetering precariously on the edge of change. Vern smith is running right up front with the heavy hitters of American fiction.”

- Roland S. Jefferson, author of Damaged Goods and School on 103rd Street

“It’s easy to forget that Detroit is a border town, but it is. The setting after 9/11 was a good choice and added to the sense of danger. I thought the book was well paced, funny and surprising (in a good way). Pynchon meets Elmore Leonard and they nip on over to Canada.”

- John L. Sheppard, author of Small Town Punk

Windsor native Vern Smith grew up twenty minutes from the green ghetto - an actual Detroit phenomenon. His fiction has appeared in Concrete Forest: The New Fiction of Urban Canada (McClelland & Stewart), as well as the Insomniac Press anthologies, Iced, Hard Boiled Love, and Revenge. His novelette, "The Gimmick," was a finalist for Canada's highest crime-writing honor, the Arthur Ellis Award. A veteran of four newspapers and three magazines, Smith's non-fiction has appeared in The Detroit Free Press, The Ottawa Citizen, The Vancouver Sun, Eye, Broken Pencil, and Quill & Quire, among other publications. He most recently managed CJAM 99.1 FM, where he founded the twenty-four-hour radio marathon Joe Strummer Day to Confront Poverty in Windsor-Detroit. He now lives on the edge of Chicago where urban Illinois meets the prairie.  

Book Tour

Hear Vern Smith Read from The Green Ghetto

Homewood, Il–Feb. 15,

Bookies Homewood

Chicago, Il–Feb. 16

Bookies Chicago

Ann Arbor, MI–Feb. 28

Literati Bookstore

Perrysburg (near Toledo, OH)–March 2

Gathering Volumes

Lafayette, IN–March 8

Main Street Books

Indianapolis, IN–March 9

Indy Reads Books

Windsor, ON–March 20

Windsor Public Library

Windsor, ON–March 21

Barrel House

Kalamazoo, MI–March 30

Kazoo Books

Detroit, MI–March


Buy The Green Ghetto now

Indiebound Amazon

"It's enough to make you think the story of the rise and fall of urban Detroit and the rise and fall of the American prairie farm were linked in some way, that the same mythos is at work in the cycle of both. In other words, Vern Smith does what great writers do. He takes his own narrative, masterfully woven and orchestrated, and makes it matter beyond its own story . . . A highly recommended new read."

- Cowboy Jamboreee



Thanks to Garth Johnson over at Troublelight Films for this mini-documentary about The Green Ghetto.