What I love most about this magnificent novel is the realistic way Fridlund places her young protagonist Linda's loneliness at the center of the story. Even though the plot contains very dramatic elements, the story's merit and complexity stem from its unswerving focus on Linda's interpretation of events, which is shaped by her limited adolescent viewpoint and troubled childhood. The result is a starkly beautiful novel that rings true, and is all the more marvelous and troubling for doing so. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
History of Wolves is a sage debut. Fridlund’s powerful prose and constant foreboding keep the story moving forward like a freight train, until suddenly it crashes and we are left feeling shock and awe over what just happened. Her characters are still haunting me. Recommended By Kate L., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"As exquisite a first novel as I’ve ever encountered. Poetic, complex, and utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful." — T. C. Boyle
One of the most daring literary debuts of the season, History of Wolves is a profound and propulsive novel from an urgent, new voice in American fiction.
Teenage Linda lives with her parents in the austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outsider at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is faced with child pornography charges, his arrest deeply affects Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.
And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. But with this new sense of belonging come expectations and secrets she doesn’t understand. Over the course of a summer, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do — and fail to do for the people they love.
Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, and A BEA Buzz Book and An ABA Indies Introduce Selection, Emily Fridlund’s agonizing and gorgeously written History of Wolves introduces a new writer of enormous range and talent.
"So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides! I’m so excited for readers to encounter the talent and roiling intelligence of Emily Fridlund." Aimee Bender
"This book walks a fine line between fiction and thriller — readers are sure to feel a pit deepening in their stomachs as they turn its pages. Rural Minnesota winters will take on a profound darkness in this gripping tale." Bookish
"'Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed.' So much is accomplished here, not least a kind of trust that this writer will make everything count, including the kind of data that is usually left for dead in a story. What is literary authority, after all, but the ability to regularly, without apparent effort, make the most of every sentence, build feeling in every line and do it in such a way that is tough, tight, funny, and often brilliantly disruptive?" Ben Marcus
"History of Wolves is so observant, so compassionate, so fresh that it can hold its own among the best of more established writers." Shelf Awareness
"The writing is beautiful... a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this." Booklist (Starred Review)
"An atmospheric, near-gothic coming-of-age novel turns on the dance between predator and prey... Fridlund is an assured writer.... The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing — a literary tour de force." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[A] stellar debut.... A sense of foreboding subtly permeates the story... [the] wordsmithing is fantastic, rife with vivid turns of phrase. Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader." Publishers Weekly (Starred Boxed Review)
About the Author
Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her fiction has appeared in a wide variety of journals. She holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and currently teaches at Cornell University. Fridlund's collection of stories, Catapult, was a finalist for the Noemi Book Award for Fiction and the Tartts First Fiction Award. It won the Mary McCarthy Prize and will be published by Sarabande in 2017. The opening chapter of History of Wolves was published in Southwest Review and won the 2013 McGinnis-Ritchie Award for Fiction.
Emily Fridlund on PowellsBooks.Blog
I probably think in terms of language — especially rhythm, the rhythm of sentences — more than anything else. That is what is primary and first for me as a writer...