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Perfume River
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About the Author

Robert Olen Butler is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of sixteen novels, including Hell, A Small Hotel, and the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series. He is also the author of six short story collections and a book on the creative process, From Where You Dream. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and received the 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.

Reviews

Advance Praise for Perfume River One of the Millions Most Anticipated Books of the Year An exceptional novel. Advance Reading Copy The prolific author best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, returns to mine the fraught relationships of military fathers and sons in this searching portrait. Atlanta Journal Constitution (13 Fall Books That Will Change the Way You See the South) A deeply meditative reflection on aging and love, as seen through the prism of one family quietly torn asunder by the lingering effects of the Vietnam War. Butler, returning to contemporary literary fiction after three outstanding historical thrillers, shows again that he is a master of tone, mood, and character, whatever genre he chooses to explore. This is thoughtful, introspective fiction of the highest caliber, but it carries a definite edge, thanks to an insistent backbeat that generates suspense with the subtlest of brushstrokes. Booklist (starred review) Butler s assured, elegant novel explores a family fractured by the Vietnam War as its members face the losses of age . . . Eddying fluidly through its half-century span, the book speaks eloquently of the way the past bleeds into the present, history reverberates through individual lives, and mortality challenges our perceptions of ourselves and others. Publishers Weekly The climactic scene . . . is devastating and beautifully written. Many weighty themes . . . the shadow of Vietnam, the push and pull of father-son relationships, the pitfalls of long-term marriages, and the psychic toll of aging . . . Butler pulls it all together into a story that s both complex and meaningful. Kirkus Reviews What I so like about Perfume River is its plainly-put elegance. Enough time has passed since Viet Nam that its grave human lessons and heartbreaks can bewith a measure of geniusalmost simply stated. Butler s novel is a model for this heartbreaking simplicity and grace. Richard Ford" Advance Praise for "Perfume River" One of the "Millions" Most Anticipated Books of the Year A deeply meditative reflection on aging and love, as seen through the prism of one family quietly torn asunder by the lingering effects of the Vietnam War. Butler, returning to contemporary literary fiction after three outstanding historical thrillers, shows again that he is a master of tone, mood, and character, whatever genre he chooses to explore. This is thoughtful, introspective fiction of the highest caliber, but it carries a definite edge, thanks to an insistent backbeat that generates suspense with the subtlest of brushstrokes. "Booklist" (starred review) The climactic scene . . . is devastating and beautifully written. Butler . . . risks taking on too many weighty themes for one novel: the shadow of Vietnam, the push and pull of father-son relationships, the pitfalls of long-term marriages, and the psychic toll of aging. But with some compelling characters, Butler pulls it all together into a story that s both complex and meaningful. "Kirkus Reviews" What I so like about "Perfume River" is its plainly-put elegance. Enough time has passed since Viet Nam that its grave human lessons and heartbreaks can bewith a measure of geniusalmost simply stated. Butler s novel is a model for this heartbreaking simplicity and grace. Richard Ford When we go out on a limb and declare that a Pulitzer Prize winner has written his finest book, and will earn consideration to be one of less than a handful of repeaters in this pinnacle of American writing awards almost 100-year history, we realize the boldness of the statement. Robert Olen Butler s "Perfume River" is sheer story-telling genius that explores multi-family conflicts and long-term PTSD through the inner thoughts of the book s magnificently crafted characters. This brilliant approach and gut-wrenching narrative was as challenging as any book I ve ever devoured. This year s most powerful read! Jake Reiss, bookseller at The Alabama Booksmith" Advance Praise for "Perfume River" A deeply meditative reflection on aging and love, as seen through the prism of one family quietly torn asunder by the lingering effects of the Vietnam War. Butler, returning to contemporary literary fiction after three outstanding historical thrillers, shows again that he is a master of tone, mood, and character, whatever genre he chooses to explore. This is thoughtful, introspective fiction of the highest caliber, but it carries a definite edge, thanks to an insistent backbeat that generates suspense with the subtlest of brushstrokes. "Booklist" (starred review) The climactic scene . . . is devastating and beautifully written. Butler . . . risks taking on too many weighty themes for one novel: the shadow of Vietnam, the push and pull of father-son relationships, the pitfalls of long-term marriages, and the psychic toll of aging. But with some compelling characters, Butler pulls it all together into a story that s both complex and meaningful. "Kirkus Reviews" What I so like about "Perfume River" is its plainly-put elegance. Enough time has passed since Viet Nam that its grave human lessons and heartbreaks can bewith a measure of geniusalmost simply stated. Butler s novel is a model for this heartbreaking simplicity and grace. Richard Ford When we go out on a limb and declare that a Pulitzer Prize winner has written his finest book, and will earn consideration to be one of less than a handful of repeaters in this pinnacle of American writing awards almost 100-year history, we realize the boldness of the statement. Robert Olen Butler s "Perfume River" is sheer story-telling genius that explores multi-family conflicts and long-term PTSD through the inner thoughts of the book s magnificently crafted characters. This brilliant approach and gut-wrenching narrative was as challenging as any book I ve ever devoured. This year s most powerful read! Jake Reiss, bookseller at The Alabama Booksmith Praise for "A Small Hotel" With mesmerizing detail, Butler excavates layers of memory and illuminates moments of both tenderness and alienation. "New Yorker" Skillful . . . Absorbing . . . Wise and painfully realistic . . . A novel of ideas, an interrogation of the limitations and uses of language. "New York Times Book Review" Intelligent, deeply moving . . . remarkably written . . . "A Small Hotel" is a masterful story that will remind readers once again why Robert Olen Butler has been called the best living American writer. "Fort Worth Star Telegram" A sleek, erotic, and suspenseful drama about men who cannot say the word love and the women they harm . . . Butler executes a plot twist of profound proportions in this gorgeously controlled, unnerving, and beautifully revealing tale of the consequences of emotional withholding. "Booklist" (starred review) A brief, intense portrayal of the collapse of a marriage . . . This may be the oldest story in the world, or at least in the monogamous world, but Butler . . . seeks to give it new life by anatomizing the feelings and perceptions of each of the principals . . . in "A Small Hotel" he has performed an unusual and worthy feat. The puzzle may have only three pieces, but each of these has many facets, and the way they eventually fit together delivers a surprising charge. "Washington Post" Praise for "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" Deeply affecting . . . a brilliant collection of stories about storytellers whose recited folklore radiates as implicit prayer . . . One of the strongest collections I ve read in ages. Ann Beattie One of the Vietnamese characters in Robert Olen Butler s first collection of short fiction gives a bitter self-portrait through distorting American eyes: We were fascinating and long-suffering and unreal or we were sly and dangerous and unreal. . . . "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" is remarkable . . . for how beautifully it achieves its daring project of making the Vietnamese real. George Packer, "New York Times Book Review" Butler s achievement is not only to reveal the inner lives of the Vietnamese, but to show, through their eyes, how the rest of us appear from an outside perspective. Madison Smartt Bell, "Chicago Tribune" The book has attracted such acclaim not simply because it is beautifully and powerfully written, but because it convincingly pulls off an immense imaginative risk . . . Butler has not entered the significant and ever-growing canon of Vietnam-related fiction (he has long been a member)he has changed its composition forever. Claire Messud, "Guardian"" Praise for "Perfume River" What I so like about "Perfume River" is its plainly-put elegance. Enough time has passed since Viet Nam that its grave human lessons and heartbreaks can bewith a measure of geniusalmost simply stated. Butler s novel is a model for this heartbreaking simplicity and grace. Richard Ford When we go out on a limb and declare that a Pulitzer Prize winner has written his finest book, and will earn consideration to be one of less than a handful of repeaters in this pinnacle of American writing awards almost 100-year history, we realize the boldness of the statement. Robert Olen Butler s "Perfume River" is sheer story-telling genius that explores multi-family conflicts and long-term PTSD through the inner thoughts of the book s magnificently crafted characters. This brilliant approach and gut-wrenching narrative was as challenging as any book I ve ever devoured. This year s most powerful read! Jake Reiss, bookseller at The Alabama Booksmith Praise for "A Small Hotel" With mesmerizing detail, Butler excavates layers of memory and illuminates moments of both tenderness and alienation. "New Yorker" Skillful . . . Absorbing . . . Wise and painfully realistic . . . A novel of ideas, an interrogation of the limitations and uses of language. "New York Times Book Review" Intelligent, deeply moving . . . remarkably written . . . "A Small Hotel" is a masterful story that will remind readers once again why Robert Olen Butler has been called the best living American writer. "Fort Worth Star Telegram" A sleek, erotic, and suspenseful drama about men who cannot say the word love and the women they harm . . . Butler executes a plot twist of profound proportions in this gorgeously controlled, unnerving, and beautifully revealing tale of the consequences of emotional withholding. "Booklist" (starred review) A brief, intense portrayal of the collapse of a marriage . . . This may be the oldest story in the world, or at least in the monogamous world, but Butler . . . seeks to give it new life by anatomizing the feelings and perceptions of each of the principals . . . in "A Small Hotel" he has performed an unusual and worthy feat. The puzzle may have only three pieces, but each of these has many facets, and the way they eventually fit together delivers a surprising charge. "Washington Post" Praise for "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" Deeply affecting . . . a brilliant collection of stories about storytellers whose recited folklore radiates as implicit prayer . . . One of the strongest collections I ve read in ages. Ann Beattie One of the Vietnamese characters in Robert Olen Butler s first collection of short fiction gives a bitter self-portrait through distorting American eyes: We were fascinating and long-suffering and unreal or we were sly and dangerous and unreal. . . . "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" is remarkable . . . for how beautifully it achieves its daring project of making the Vietnamese real. George Packer, "New York Times Book Review" Butler s achievement is not only to reveal the inner lives of the Vietnamese, but to show, through their eyes, how the rest of us appear from an outside perspective. Madison Smartt Bell, "Chicago Tribune" The book has attracted such acclaim not simply because it is beautifully and powerfully written, but because it convincingly pulls off an immense imaginative risk . . . Butler has not entered the significant and ever-growing canon of Vietnam-related fiction (he has long been a member)he has changed its composition forever. Claire Messud, "Guardian"" Praise for "A Small Hotel" With mesmerizing detail, Butler excavates layers of memory and illuminates moments of both tenderness and alienation. "New Yorker" Skillful . . . Absorbing . . . Wise and painfully realistic . . . A novel of ideas, an interrogation of the limitations and uses of language. "New York Times Book Review" Intelligent, deeply moving . . . remarkably written . . . "A Small Hotel" is a masterful story that will remind readers once again why Robert Olen Butler has been called the best living American writer. "Fort Worth Star Telegram" A sleek, erotic, and suspenseful drama about men who cannot say the word love and the women they harm . . . Butler executes a plot twist of profound proportions in this gorgeously controlled, unnerving, and beautifully revealing tale of the consequences of emotional withholding. "Booklist" (starred review) A brief, intense portrayal of the collapse of a marriage . . . This may be the oldest story in the world, or at least in the monogamous world, but Butler . . . seeks to give it new life by anatomizing the feelings and perceptions of each of the principals . . . in "A Small Hotel" he has performed an unusual and worthy feat. The puzzle may have only three pieces, but each of these has many facets, and the way they eventually fit together delivers a surprising charge. "Washington Post" Praise for "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" Deeply affecting . . . a brilliant collection of stories about storytellers whose recited folklore radiates as implicit prayer . . . One of the strongest collections I ve read in ages. Ann Beattie One of the Vietnamese characters in Robert Olen Butler s first collection of short fiction gives a bitter self-portrait through distorting American eyes: We were fascinating and long-suffering and unreal or we were sly and dangerous and unreal. . . . "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain" is remarkable . . . for how beautifully it achieves its daring project of making the Vietnamese real. George Packer, "New York Times Book Review" Butler s achievement is not only to reveal the inner lives of the Vietnamese, but to show, through their eyes, how the rest of us appear from an outside perspective. Madison Smartt Bell, "Chicago Tribune" The book has attracted such acclaim not simply because it is beautifully and powerfully written, but because it convincingly pulls off an immense imaginative risk . . . Butler has not entered the significant and ever-growing canon of Vietnam-related fiction (he has long been a member)he has changed its composition forever. Claire Messud, "Guardian""

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