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Inland

By: TÉA Obreht

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Imprint: Random House

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780812992861

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The New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife returns with “a bracingly epic and imaginatively mythic journey across the American West” (Entertainment Weekly).In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Lurie’s death-defying trek at last intersects with Nora’s plight is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely—and unforgettably—her own.Praise for Inland“As it should be, the landscape of the West itself is a character, thrillingly rendered throughout. . . . Here, Obreht’s simple but rich prose captures and luxuriates in the West’s beauty and sudden menace. Remarkable in a novel with such a sprawling cast, Obreht also has a poetic touch for writing intricate and precise character descriptions.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)“Beautifully wrought.”—Vanity Fair“Obreht is the kind of writer who can forever change the way you think about a thing, just through her powers of description. . . . Inland is an ambitious and beautiful work about many things: immigration, the afterlife, responsibility, guilt, marriage, parenthood, revenge, all the roads and waterways that led to America. Miraculously, it’s also a page-turner and a mystery, as well as a love letter to a camel, and, like a camel, improbable and splendid, something to happily puzzle over at first and take your breath away at the end.”—Elizabeth McCracken, O: The Oprah Magazine
Obreht is at her most captivating when she reveals Nora's innermost thoughts, especially those she hesitates to acknowledge on the edges of her consciousness.... As it should be, the landscape of the West itself is a character, thrillingly rendered throughout in phrases such as “red boil of twilight” and “a stillness so vast the small music of the grasses could not rise to fill it.” Here, Obreht's simple but rich prose captures and luxuriates in the West's beauty and sudden menace. Remarkable in a novel with such a sprawling cast, Obreht also has a poetic touch for writing intricate and precise character descriptions.
—New York Times
Suffused with magical realism, “Inland” is a sweeping story of the outcasts who drift into this desolate corner of the West. There's a huge cast, stretching back half a century, who orbit around two characters in particular.... But as it's 2019, it's unfortunate that among all the varied characters we meet in “Inland,” Native Americans don't ever leave the periphery. It's a missed opportunity. At times, this sweeping story seems almost too big for even a writer of Obreht's gifts. But it is saved by the camel and his rider Lurie, outsiders who can make a home no place other than the emptiest spaces of the West.
—Los Angeles Times
[D]espite Ms. Obreht's inspired mimicry of the conventions of the Western, one never senses that “Inland” belongs to that genre, any more than “The Tiger's Wife” was a novel about war in the Balkans.... Ms. Obreht has the extraordinary ability to make a seamless whole from these fused parts, creating a fully immersive imaginary world governed by its own logic and oriented around its own truths.... Ms. Obreht is at her best chronicling Lurie's years of desert wayfaring, wherein every episode gives rise to a new legend.
—Wall Street Journal
What at first seems like a desolate western landscape turns out to be populated by compelling and complicated characters, as well as uniquely beautiful flora and fauna and majestic vistas. INLAND may feel overwritten to some readers, yet it is undeniably a complicated story beautifully written, with prose that occasionally meanders but is always tremendously powerful.... INLAND is a masterful novel, drawing on the grand traditions of the western genre and expressing universal emotions. And yet, Obreht delivers a unique tale full of surprises, elegance and artistry.
—Bookreporter.com
It would be easy for a book like this to linger on solemnities of grit, but Obreht is too lively a writer to paint only in shades of grey muslin. This is a vigorous, funny and energetic novel thanks to the fact that each thread of “Inland” is peopled with major and minor characters... Toggling between these two yarns, Obreht weaves a beautiful meditation on the way resilience engenders — requires, sometimes — a crushing sort of invisibility.
—Boston Globe
“Inland” is a book in no great hurry to get to its point, ambling amiably across its phantasmagorical vision of the West. The prose is dense, occasionally impenetrable, with chewy passages that can feel, in the moment, like unnecessary discursions, though most prove essential by the story's fateful finale.... “Inland” blows you open, too, its final pages reaching to set you abuzz.
—USA Today
It's a voyage of hilarious and harrowing adventures, told in the irresistible voice of a restless, superstitious man determined to live right but tormented by his past. At times, it feels as though Obreht has managed to track down Huck Finn years after he lit out for the Territory and found him riding a camel. She has such a perfectly tuned ear for the simple poetry of Lurie's vision.... The unsettling haze between fact and fantasy in “Inland” is not just a literary effect of Obreht's gorgeous prose; it's an uncanny representation of the indeterminate nature of life in this place of brutal geography.
—Washington Post
[T]here's little well-directed commentary about life, nature, art, ideas or anything much at all in “Inland.” Set in an Old West that feels like a film set, the novel is packed with whimsical “characters” and earnest sances and omens and dowsers and people who talk to the dead. This novel underscores the word “purple” in the patriotic song lyric about “purple mountain majesties.”... “Inland” floats up and away, like a magic carpet bound for anywhere and nowhere.... Like Annie Proulx, Obreht is fond of offbeat nouns and verbs, especially when describing the natural world.... This voice appears then vanishes for long sections until the author remembers to switch it on again, like a camera effect. More common are observations and dialogue that are as softly didactic as refrigerator magnet slogans... I realize I am being terribly hard on Obreht's novel, but I felt lashed to its mast very early on and That Sinking Feeling never entirely went away. The many readers who will enjoy “Inland” and put it on best-seller lists can send an old curse in my direction.
—New York Times
The novel has less of a plot than a set of questions raised and answered... These puzzles materialize rather murkily in the first half and are gradually addressed in the second. If this is less than satisfactory, the conclusion is splendid, bringing the two storylines together with real panache. It is the plight of an author's second novel to be compared to the first and there is some fine writing here � though I doubt anyone in the 19th century would use "task," "gift" or "source" as a verb. Still, "Inland" lacks the intricate tapestry of its predecessor. It is hard to get a handle on its characters and this American Southwest has the feeling of a stage set rather than the lived, dreamed, time-steeped reality and surreality of the world of "The Tiger's Wife."
—Newsday
[Obreht's] 2011 debut, “The Tiger's Wife,” merged war stories and ethnic folk tales, making both feel fresh and unfamiliar. If she overreached, it was in the name of exploding some old tropes. With her follow-up, the hefty and engrossing “Inland,” she means to do the same thing for the western.... Obreht resists convention so strenuously that the novel sometimes feels like it's trying too hard — that studied interiority can muffle its sense of adventure. But in its closing chapters Obreht elegantly merges Nora and Lurie's fates, satisfying Obreht's urge to play this old tune in a different key.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
To say that Ta Obreht's long-anticipated follow-up to “The Tiger's Wife” is worth the wait is like saying the Grand Canyon is worth the visit. It's not wrong — it's just insufficient. Jump some miles south of the canyon, shave off a century, and you'll find half of the milieu for her new book, “Inland.”... In a moment where the book world fetishizes self-examination and minute, sentence-level showiness, it is not only a relief but a privilege to see Obreht shoot the moon with this sprawlingly ambitious and fully imagined tale. Great literature is to the spirit what water is to the body. Read “Inland,” and drink deeply.
—San Francisco Chronicle
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