Diaz trusses up the rickety western genre and pumps it full of, yes, blood and conquest, but also quiet moments of introspection, crippling isolation, and an alien terrain beyond forgiveness or reason. Fleet-footed and marvelously realized, In the Distance is Cormac McCarthy with a soul or Louis L'Amour on peyote. A genuine jolt of empathy to the rotted heart of American exceptionalism. Recommended By Justin W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A young Swedish boy finds himself in penniless and alone in California. He travels East in search of his brother, moving on foot against the great push to the West. Driven back over and over again on his journey through vast expanses, Hakan meets naturalists, criminals, religious fanatics, Indians, and lawmen, and his exploits turn him into a legend. Diaz defies the conventions of historical fiction and genre (travel narratives, the bildungsroman, nature writing, the Western), offering a probing look at the stereotypes that populate our past and a portrait of radical foreignness.
At first, it was a contest, but in time the beasts understood that, with an embrace and the slightest push, they had to lie down on their side and stay until Hakan got up. He did this each time he thought he spied someone on the circular horizon. Had Hakan and his animals ever been spotted, the distant travelers would have taken the vanishing silhouettes for a mirage. But there were no such travelers--the moving shadows he saw almost every day in the distance were illusions. With the double intention of getting away from the trail and the cold, he had traveled south for days.
“Diaz cleverly updates an old-fashioned yarn, and his novel is rife with exquisite moments.” Publishers Weekly, boxed and starred review
“An affecting oddness is the great virtue of In the Distance, along with its wrenching evocations of its main character’s loneliness and grief. And its ability to create lustrous mindscapes from wide-open spaces, from voids that are never empty.” New York Times
“A gorgeously written novel that charts one man’s growth from boyhood to mythic status as he journeys between continents and the extremes of the human condition.” Pulitzer Prizes
About the Author
Hernan Diaz is the author of Borges, Between History and Eternity (Bloomsbury 2012), managing editor of RHM, and associate director of the Hispanic Institute at Columbia University. He lives in New York.