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The New Valleyby Josh Weil
Winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
The linked novellas that comprise Josh Weil’s masterful debut bring us into America’s remote, unforgiving backcountry, and delicately unveil the private worlds of three very different men as they confront love, loss, and their own personal demons.
Set in the hardscrabble hill country between West Virginia and Virginia, The New Valley is populated by characters striving to forge new lives in the absence of those they have loved. Told in three varied and distinct voices — from a soft-spoken beef farmer struggling to hold himself together after his dad’s suicide; to a health-obsessed single father desperate to control his reckless, overweight daughter; to a mildly retarded man who falls for a married woman intent on using him in a scheme that wounds them both — each novella is a vivid examination of Weil’s uniquely romanticized relationships. As the men struggle against grief, solitude, and fixation, their desperation leads them all to commit acts that bring both ruin and salvation.
Reminiscent of Bobbie Ann Mason, Annie Proulx, and Kent Haruf in its deeply American tone, The New Valley is a tender exploration of resilience, isolation, and the consuming ache for human connection. Weil’s empathetic, meticulous prose makes this is a debut of inescapable power.
"Weil's debut is a stark and haunting triptych of novellas set in the rusted-out hills straddling the border between the Virginias. In 'Ridge Weather,' Osby, a hardscrabble cattle rancher, finds himself lonely and isolated after his father's suicide. In the aftermath he struggles to make some sort of a personal connection in increasingly desperate attempts to be needed by someone. In 'Stillman Wing,' the elderly Charlie Stillman, afraid of his own mortality, tries to reinvigorate his life by stealing and reconditioning a tractor, all the while maintaining a relationship with his obese, promiscuous daughter and coming to terms with the death of his barnstormer parents. 'Sarverville Remains,' takes the form of a letter from Geoffrey Sarver, a mildly retarded orphan, to an incarcerated man whose wife he has fallen in love with, and takes on the elements of a well-told crime story. All three pieces, despite their somber tones, offer renewal for their protagonists. Taken individually, each novella offers its own tragic pleasures, but together, the works create a deeply human landscape that delivers great beauty." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Intense and satisfying; highly recommended..." Library Journal
"Weil limns a rugged emotional landscape every bit as raw and desolate as the land that inspired it, delivering an eloquent portrait of people who defiantly cling to a fierce independence." Booklist
"There is a magic and gentle beauty in this book that makes me remember why I had always wanted to be a writer." Tim O'Brien
The linked novellas that comprise Weil's masterful debut bring readers into America's remote, unforgiving backcountry, and delicately unveil the private worlds of three very different men as they confront love, loss, and their own personal demons.
About the Author
Josh Weil was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of rural Virginia, and currently divides his time between New York City and a cabin in southwestern Virginia, where he is at work on a novel. His short fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Granta, New England Review, American Short Fiction, Narrative and other journals.
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