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Marian Palaia

The Given World

Marian Palaia The Given World
$17.87 New
 
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Main description:

Spanning twenty-five years of cultural upheaval, moving from Montana to San Francisco to Saigon, The Given World is a major debut novel about the effects of war on those left at home, by an author who is “strong, soulful, and deeply gifted” (Lorrie Moore, New York Times bestselling author of Birds of America).

When Riley and her parents get the news that her big brother, Mick, is missing in action in Vietnam, it blows a hole in the family bigger than any landmine could. Riley takes refuge in isolation and drugs but a few years later falls in love with Darrell, a boy from the local reservation who tells her of his induction into the Army just as Riley discovers she’s pregnant, at seventeen. Left behind again, Riley begins a journey that takes her to San Francisco, Saigon, the haunted tunnels of Cu Chi, and finally back to Montana. Maybe she is searching for her brother, but mostly she is searching for a way to be in the world without him, a way to trust love again.

The Given World introduces an extraordinary cast of characters—including Primo, the big-hearted, half-blind vet; Lu, a cab-driving addict with an artist’s eye; and Grace, a banjo-playing girl on a train carrying her grandmother’s ashes—all are members of a lost generation coming of age too quickly as they struggle to put together lives interrupted by loss. At center stage is Riley, a masterpiece of vulnerability and tenacity, wondering if she’ll ever have the courage to go home again.

“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. The Given World deserves a place on the shelf beside the pantheon of extraordinary war novels of our time, such as Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried” (Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife).

Review quote:

"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."

Review quote:

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.

Review quote:

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.

Review quote:

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

Review quote:

Marian Palaia is a writer of remarkable talent. In Riley, she has captured VietMarian 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. The Given World deserves a place on the shelf beside the pantheon of extraordinary war novels of our time such as Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.


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