Synopses & Reviews
The prize-winning author of Legend of a Suicide
delivers his highly anticipated debut novel.
On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, a marriage is unraveling. Gary, driven by thirty years of diverted plans, and Irene, haunted by a tragedy in her past, are trying to rebuild their life together. Following the outline of Gary's old dream, they're hauling logs to Caribou Island in good weather and in terrible storms, in sickness and in health, to build the kind of cabin that drew them to Alaska in the first place.
But this island is not right for Irene. They are building without plans or advice, and when winter comes early, the overwhelming isolation of the prehistoric wilderness threatens their bond to the core. Caught in the emotional maelstrom is their adult daughter, Rhoda, who is wrestling with the hopes and disappointments of her own life. Devoted to her parents, she watches helplessly as they drift further apart.
Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, Caribou Island captures the drama and pathos of a husband and wife whose bitter love, failed dreams, and tragic past push them to the edge of destruction. A portrait of desolation, violence, and the darkness of the soul, it is an explosive and unforgettable novel from a writer of limitless possibility.
"A striking novel filled with the violence borne of a bitter life." Kirkus Reviews
"Vann, who received acclaim for his short-story collection Legend of a Suicide (2008), renders luminous prose in this haunting tale of hardened hearts and broken dreams." Booklist
"Vann delivers an authentic story, even lyrical at times. He is a writer headed for notable accomplishments. Enthusiastically recommended." Library Journal
"[T]his story of a family in southern Alaska comes to us in a series of vibrant moments as bracing, invigorating and finally as deadly as the icy water that surrounds these characters." Washington Post
"It may be premature to identify a writer's interests as obsessions when his fictional output includes just a single collection of short stories, and now a novel; but from the first pages of Caribou Island, it is clear that David Vann has some things that he cannot get out of his head. Bleak and terrifying things, too: suicide as an act of aggression, nature's power to reflect and inspire madness, and the perverse allure of doomed endeavors."
Ian Crouch, The New Republic (Read the entire )
"Dazzling.... Vann knows the darkness but he writes from the compassionate light of art. This is an essential book." --Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
"Exceptional....An unflinching portrait of bad faith and bad dreams." --Ron Rash, author of Burning Bright
Set against the backdrop of Alaska's unforgiving wilderness, Caribou Island is David Vann's dark and captivating tale of a marriage pulled apart by rage and regret. With this eagerly anticipated debut novel, a masterful follow-up to his internationally bestselling short fiction anthology, Legend of a Suicide, Vann takes up the mantle of Louise Erdrich, Marilyn Robinson, and Rick Moody, delivering a powerfully wrought, enthrallingly emotional narrative of struggle and isolation.
About the Author
David Vann is the author of Legend of a Suicide, which has been translated into sixteen languages, won ten prizes, and been on forty Best Books of the Year lists worldwide. Hes also the author of the bestselling memoir A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea and Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter, winner of the AWP Nonfiction Award. A current Guggenheim Fellow and former Stegner Fellow and NEA Fellow, he has taught at Stanford and Cornell, and is now a professor at the University of San Francisco.