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Pushed to Shore: A Short Novel

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Pushed to Shore: A Short Novel Cover

 

Awards

Winner of the 2001 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In an essay written for his ESL class, a young student describes his flight from Vietnam at the age of twelve, in a fishing boat with three friends. They were beaten by Thai pirates, fell faint with hunger and pain, until they were pushed to the kind shore by a finger of God. The phrase evokes an overriding metaphor for this resonant first novel by Kate Gadbow, in which a community of Vietnamese and Hmong refugees struggles to maintain balance between the world they fled and the one they are currently negotiating in Missoula, Montana. Gadbow meshes the lives of these refugees with that of the book's narrator Janet Hunter, a teacher struggling to manage contemporary life, with a failed marriage and a string of disappointments haunting her own past.

But in her classroom she strives to focus on these students and their disrupted lives, in the hope that she just might be able to make a small, positive difference: There is Vinh Le, the essay writer; Youa Vang, a silent, obsessive arranger of desk details; Mee Moua, the classroom leader, and, perhaps most of all, there is the ghostly figure of Pao — a Hmong student who appears unable to make the transition from the horrors of the country he has escaped to the fraught realities of a society he does not understand, and who shocks both cultures with an irrevocable act of violence.

In a deceptively simple prose style that reads like easy conversation, and with an admirable lack of sentimentality, Kate Gadbow has written a remarkable novel depicting the clash of cultures and the difficult realities inherent to a world given only to constant change, where the harbor of a kind shore seems frustratingly out of reach.

Review:

"Gadbow's characterizations are astute, but her detailed chronicle of Janet's very ordinary life — conversations with single friend Judy, a romance with the lawyer who defends Pao in court, a week's bout with the flu — grows tedious. Most memorable is the novel's sensitive portrayal of the fragile hopes of young Hmong and Vietnamese refugees." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"A quiet portrait, in a plain and straightforward style, of simple and unassuming people who rise above horrendous tribulations." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Gadbow writes in straightforward, conversational prose that gradually draws the reader into a story about the sadness and beauty of life. Recommended..." Library Journal

Review:

"Kate Gadbow makes the well-intentioned but emotionally insecure Janet a realistic and largely likable character. But the first-person narration traps the reader within the narrow compass of Janet's flawed perceptions. A foreword by Rosellen Brown focuses on the refugees and their emblematic plight. The story itself, however, leans in a more limited and conventional direction." Amanda Heller, The Boston Globe

Review:

"An aura of sadness and quiet hopefulness lingered for me for a long time after I finished this novel. Its poignancy, I think, comes from the paradoxical confrontation between innocence and experience these Asian strivers are caught in — at the same time that they are rendered childlike by ignorance of their new culture, we know they have been singed and seared, and therefore secretly toughened. Emigration/immigration is such a significant phenomenon right now (as it was a century ago, but in a simpler America) that this tension between competency and confusion, maturity and infantilization is an enormously fecund subject for a novelist with a well-developed sense of irony." Rosellen Brown, from the Foreword

Synopsis:

Winner of the 2001 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction

"This novel’s poignancy, I think, comes from the paradoxical confrontation between innocence and experience these Asian strivers are caught in—at the same time that they are rendered childlike by ignorance of their new culture, we know they have been singed and seared, and therefore secretly toughened. Immigration is such a significant phenomenon right now that this tension between competency and confusion, maturity and infantilization is an enormously fecund subject for a novelist with a well-developed sense of irony."—From the Foreword by Rosellen Brown

In an essay written for his ESL class, a young student describes his flight from Vietnam at the age of 12, in a fishing boat with three friends. They were beaten by Thai pirates, fell faint with hunger and pain, until they were "pushed to the kind shore by a finger of God." The phrase evokes an overriding metaphor for this resonant first novel by Kate Gadbow, in which a community of Vietnamese and Hmong refugees struggles to maintain balance between the world they fled and the one they are currently negotiating in Missoula, Montana. Gadbow meshes the lives of these refugees with that of the book’s narrator Janet Hunter, a teacher struggling to manage contemporary life, with a failed marriage and a string of disappointments haunting her own past.

In a deceptively simple prose style that reads like easy conversation, and with an admirable lack of sentimentality, Kate Gadbow has written a remarkable novel depicting the clash of cultures and the difficult realities inherent to a world given only to constant change, where the harbor of a kind shore seems frustratingly out of reach.

Kate Gadbow directs the Creative Writing Program and teaches undergraduate fiction classes at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she lives with her husband, journalist Daryl Gadbow.

About the Author

Kate Gadbow is the 2001 winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, selected by Rosellen Brown. Her stories and essays have appeared in Epoch, Northwest Review, Cutbank, Talking River Review, and elsewhere. She coedited The Quill Reader, published in 2000 by Harcourt Brace. She directs the Creative Writing Program and teaches undergraduate fiction classes at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she lives with her husband, journalist Daryl Gadbow. Their grown children, Grady and Alison, are fifth-generation Montanans.

Series Description

Pushed to Shore is the fifty-third title to be published by Sarabande Books, a nonprofit literary press headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. Founded in 1994 to publish poetry and short fiction, Sarabande's mission is to disburse these works with diligence and integrity, and to serve as an educational resource to teachers and students of creative writing. Since the 1996 debut of the press, our titles have received positive review attention from nationally distinguished media including The New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, American Book Review, Small Press, The Nation, and Library Journal.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781889330815
Foreword by:
Brown, Rosellen
Publisher:
Sarabande Books
Foreword by:
Brown, Rosellen
Foreword:
Brown, Rosellen
Author:
Gadbow, Kate
Author:
Brown, Rosellen
Location:
Louisville, Ky.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Asian
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Refugees
Subject:
Women teachers
Subject:
Vietnamese Americans
Subject:
English teachers
Subject:
Autobiographical fiction
Subject:
Hmong Americans.
Subject:
Missoula
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series Volume:
00-4083
Publication Date:
January 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
290
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Pushed to Shore: A Short Novel New Trade Paper
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$13.50 Backorder
Product details 290 pages Sarabande Books - English 9781889330815 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Gadbow's characterizations are astute, but her detailed chronicle of Janet's very ordinary life — conversations with single friend Judy, a romance with the lawyer who defends Pao in court, a week's bout with the flu — grows tedious. Most memorable is the novel's sensitive portrayal of the fragile hopes of young Hmong and Vietnamese refugees."
"Review" by , "A quiet portrait, in a plain and straightforward style, of simple and unassuming people who rise above horrendous tribulations."
"Review" by , "Gadbow writes in straightforward, conversational prose that gradually draws the reader into a story about the sadness and beauty of life. Recommended..."
"Review" by , "Kate Gadbow makes the well-intentioned but emotionally insecure Janet a realistic and largely likable character. But the first-person narration traps the reader within the narrow compass of Janet's flawed perceptions. A foreword by Rosellen Brown focuses on the refugees and their emblematic plight. The story itself, however, leans in a more limited and conventional direction."
"Review" by , "An aura of sadness and quiet hopefulness lingered for me for a long time after I finished this novel. Its poignancy, I think, comes from the paradoxical confrontation between innocence and experience these Asian strivers are caught in — at the same time that they are rendered childlike by ignorance of their new culture, we know they have been singed and seared, and therefore secretly toughened. Emigration/immigration is such a significant phenomenon right now (as it was a century ago, but in a simpler America) that this tension between competency and confusion, maturity and infantilization is an enormously fecund subject for a novelist with a well-developed sense of irony."
"Synopsis" by ,

Winner of the 2001 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction

"This novel’s poignancy, I think, comes from the paradoxical confrontation between innocence and experience these Asian strivers are caught in—at the same time that they are rendered childlike by ignorance of their new culture, we know they have been singed and seared, and therefore secretly toughened. Immigration is such a significant phenomenon right now that this tension between competency and confusion, maturity and infantilization is an enormously fecund subject for a novelist with a well-developed sense of irony."—From the Foreword by Rosellen Brown

In an essay written for his ESL class, a young student describes his flight from Vietnam at the age of 12, in a fishing boat with three friends. They were beaten by Thai pirates, fell faint with hunger and pain, until they were "pushed to the kind shore by a finger of God." The phrase evokes an overriding metaphor for this resonant first novel by Kate Gadbow, in which a community of Vietnamese and Hmong refugees struggles to maintain balance between the world they fled and the one they are currently negotiating in Missoula, Montana. Gadbow meshes the lives of these refugees with that of the book’s narrator Janet Hunter, a teacher struggling to manage contemporary life, with a failed marriage and a string of disappointments haunting her own past.

In a deceptively simple prose style that reads like easy conversation, and with an admirable lack of sentimentality, Kate Gadbow has written a remarkable novel depicting the clash of cultures and the difficult realities inherent to a world given only to constant change, where the harbor of a kind shore seems frustratingly out of reach.

Kate Gadbow directs the Creative Writing Program and teaches undergraduate fiction classes at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she lives with her husband, journalist Daryl Gadbow.

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