(Alt title: Dayton’s: a novel, or The Daytonians)
When department store staff discover the relics of an infirmary on the abandoned tenth floor of Dayton’s department store, history collides with the present. Our Company: a novel, upmarket commercial fiction at 92,000 words, is set in 1990s Minneapolis.
Dayton’s used to be like one big family. The owners cared enough to provide a nurse for sick employees and customers. By 1990, each employee is a number. Some sneak away to the old infirmary for a drink, a nap, or a tryst. When an adopted child conceived there looks for her birth parents, their secret is not the only one that could be exposed. The discovery of a painting depicting the store, and a nurse who worked there in the 1940s, could change all of their lives as the business inches toward demise.
Dayton’s is written in the style of Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise or ITV’s Mr. Selfridge’s, but at the turn of the millennium as the grand department store industry comes to a close. It also has themes similar to Celeste Ng’s new novel, Little Fires Everywhere, with the humor of The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.
Catherine Dehdashti is a University of Minnesota writer, a freelance food writer, and a former retail worker. Her recent essay in the Minneapolis Star Tribune showed what Dayton’s meant to those who worked in the now-shuttered store, including herself. She holds a master of liberal studies degree from the University of Minnesota.
Dehdashti wrote Our Company with guidance from The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, where she is a member. Professional sensitivity readers helped ensure that cultural, adoption, and historical details are accurate. Please email Catherine Dehdashti if you are interested in representing her for publication.