Téa Obreht Reimagines Myths of the American West with Her "Magical, Otherwordly Storytelling"

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Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is Téa Obreht’s INLAND, published by Random House and debuting at #12 on The New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list for the week of September 1. Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, INLAND is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines myths of the American West, making them entirely—and unforgettably—her own.

Téa Obreht reveals,“I had been researching the American West for a long time, in search of a story, when I stumbled onto an obscure bit of Arizona campfire lore in a podcast I love called Stuff You Missed in History Class, which explored not only the use of camels in the American Southwest but also the campfire legends that sprang up in the wake of their release into the wild after the Civil War. That I’d never heard anything about it before staggered me and touched on something in which I’ve always been interested: what does it take for a story to survive the passage of time? Who gets left out of foundational lore, and why?”

Téa Obreht

Random House Executive Editor Andrea Walker : “One of the things I love most about Téa Obreht’s fiction is that she has the ability to combine magical, otherworldly storytelling with the most gritty, visceral, hard-packed prose. In this novel the veil between the world of the living and dead is tenuous, with frequent crossings between the two; it is also a novel set partly during a drought and a treacherous expedition of the American West, where you will feel the dust on your skin, the sun baking your face, and the thirst parching your throat. We’re so thrilled to be publishing this second novel from the acclaimed, bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife

A selection of reviewer 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)
  • “With INLAND, Obreht makes a renewed case for the sustained, international appeal of the American West, based on a set of myths that have been continually shaped and refracted through outside lenses. . . . Discovering the particular genre conventions that Obreht has chosen to transfigure or to uphold soon becomes central to the novel’s propulsive appeal.”—The New Yorker
  • “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. . . . 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.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
  • “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


Posted: August 26, 2019