Vanessa Veselka is a keen observer of the world and a powerhouse storyteller, and you can't help but fall in love with sisters Livy and Cheyenne. The Great Offshore Grounds is a gritty but luminous epic, beautifully cerebral, a deeply real story with touches of surrealism, loads of dark humor, and loads of heart. Recommended By Gigi L., Powells.com
The Great Offshore Grounds is the great American novel turned on its head. I was lost in the pleasure of the language, the characters, and their real but transformative journeys. This book is why I read. Recommended By Doug C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A wildly original, cross-country novel that subverts a long tradition of family narratives and casts new light on the mythologies — national, individual, and collective — that drive and define us.
On the day of their estranged father's wedding, half-sisters Cheyenne and Livy set off to claim their inheritance. It's been years since the two have seen each other. Cheyenne is newly back in Seattle, crashing with Livy after a failed marriage and a series of dead ends. Livy works refinishing boats, her resentment against her free-loading sister growing as she tamps down dreams of fishing off the coast of Alaska. But the promise of a shot at financial security brings the two together to claim what's theirs. Except: instead of money, their father gives them information — a name — that both reveals a stunning family secret and compels them to come to grips with it. In the face of their new reality, the sisters and their adopted brother each set out on journeys that will test their faith in each other, as well as their definitions of freedom.
Moving from Seattle's underground to the docks of the Far North, from the hideaways of the southern swamps to the storied reaches of the Great Offshore Grounds, Veselka spins a tale with boundless verve, linguistic vitality, and undeniable tenderness — it is the first great novel of late-capitalist America.
"Astonishing depth and scope....fascinating details...intimate, spot-on descriptions of contemporary American poverty....This gritty and unsentimental work is compassionate, funny, and deeply human." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Energetic....points of view shift kaleidoscopically....a fiery and occasionally luminous chaos that feels true to the experience of those for whom each day is lived at the edges of mainstream society." Kirkus
"The Great Offshore Grounds blew me away. The tangled journeys of three siblings in the hardest of times pursuing freedom and love through a broken world will both move and dazzle readers. Wry, epic, glorious." Emma Donoghue, author of Akin
About the Author
Vanessa Veselka is the author of the novel Zazen, which won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Her short stories have appeared in Tin House and ZYZZYVA, and her nonfiction in GQ, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The Atavist, and was included in Best American Essays and the anthology Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism. She has been, at various times, a teenage runaway, a sex worker, a union organizer, an independent record label owner, a train hopper, a waitress, and a mother. She lives in Portland, OR.