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The Given World

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The Given World

By Marian Palaia

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Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Published In: United States, 01 April 2016
"Complex and haunting...vivid and unforgettable" (People), this story of one injured but indefatigable young woman is a stunning portrait of a family, a generation, and a country all coming of age. From a quiet family farm in Montana in the 60s to the grit and haze of San Francisco in the 70s to a gypsy-populated, post-war Saigon, The Given World spins around its unconventional and unforgettable heroine, Riley. When her big brother is declared MIA in Vietnam, young Riley packs up her shattered heart and leaves her family, her first love, and "a few small things" behind. By trial and error she builds a new life, working on cars, delivering newspapers, tending bar. She befriends, rescues, and is rescued by a similarly vagabond cast of characters whose "'unraveled souls' sting hardest and linger the longest" (The New York Times Book Review). Foolhardy, funny, and wise, Riley's challenge as she grows into a woman is simple: survive long enough to go home again, or at least figure out where home is, and who might be among the living there. Lorrie Moore said, "It's been a long time since a first book contained this much wisdom and knowledge of the world." The Given World is "an immensely rewarding and remarkable debut" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).

Reviews

"In "The Given World," Marian Palaia has assembled a collection of restive seekers and beautifully told their stories of love and lovelessness, home and homelessness, with an emphasis on both makeshift and enduring ideas of family. It has been a long time since a first book contained this much wisdom and knowledge of the world. She has a great ear for dialogue, a feel for dramatic confrontation, and a keen understanding of when background suddenly becomes foreground. She is a strong, soulful, and deeply gifted writer."--Lorrie Moore, author of Bark "Not all the American casualties of Vietnam went to war. In stunning, gorgeous prose, in precise, prismatic detail, Palaia begins with that rupture and works her way deep into the aftermath -- its impact on one person, on one family, on one country. Riveting and revelatory."--Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves "Some rare books give you the sense that a writer has been walking around with a story for years, storing it up, ruminating on it. This is one of those books. I'm grateful for the slow and patient emergence of these words on the page. No sentence is wasted. However long The Given World took, it was worth every minute."--Peter Orner, author of The Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge "Marian Palaia has imaginatively engaged the Vietnam War these many decades later and transformed it into a brilliant and complex narrative able to transcend that war, all wars, all politics, all eras and illuminate the great and eternally enduring human quest for self, for an identity, for a place in the universe. The Given World is a splendid first novel by an exciting new artist."--Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize ""The Given World" is astonishing in every regard: the voice, the range of characters, the charismatic, colloquial dialogue, the ability to summon, through telling detail, geographically diverse worlds that are far flung, but still cohere. Vietnam, counter-cultural San Francisco, the Vietnam War draft s resonance on a Montana reservation, all give evocative shape and texture to an historical era. It s edgy, often cutting, humorous, and impassioned."--Rob Nixon" "Marian Palaia is a writer of startling grace and sensuous lyricism--reading her, you feel as if you've never heard language this beautiful and this true."--Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife "From the moment I met Riley I was drawn into her world, which is really ours, America in the last century as it careened into this one. I found this novel as thrilling and surprising as a ride on a vintage motorcycle, along the winding, sometimes hair-raising but always arresting ride that is Riley's life. It is a trip I will always remember."--Jesse Lee Kercheval, author of My Life as a Silent Movie "The Given World is astonishing in every regard: the voice, the range of characters, the charismatic, colloquial dialogue, the ability to summon, through telling detail, geographically diverse worlds that are far flung, but still cohere. Vietnam, counter-cultural San Francisco, the Vietnam War draft's resonance on a Montana reservation, all give evocative shape and texture to an historical era. It's edgy, often cutting, humorous, and impassioned."--Rob Nixon "Marian Palaia is a writer of remarkable talent. In Riley, she has captured Vietnam's long shadow with prose that cuts straight to the bone. Readers who enjoyed Jennifer Egan's The Invisible Circus will love The Given World."--Suzanne Rindell, author of The Other Typist "In The Given World, Marian Palaia has assembled a collection of restive seekers and beautifully told their stories of love and lovelessness, home and homelessness, with an emphasis on both makeshift and enduring ideas of family. It has been a long time since a first book contained this much wisdom and knowledge of the world. She has a great ear for dialogue, a feel for dramatic confrontation, and a keen understanding of when background suddenly becomes foreground. She is a strong, soulful, and deeply gifted writer."--Lorrie Moore, author of Bark

EAN: 9781476778044
ISBN: 1476778043
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Dimensions: 21.34 x 13.97 x 1.78 centimetres (0.27 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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