Finalist for the 2021 National Book Award (Fiction)
"A virtuosic portrait." -New York Times Book Review
"A tender, glowing novel." -Anthony Doerr, Guardian, "Best Books of the Year"
"Pages that are polished like jewels." -Scott Simon, NPR, "Books We Love"
"Lit from within." -Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times, "Best Fiction Books of the Year"
"A touching, tightly woven story from an always impressive author." -Kirkus (starred review), "Best Fiction of the Year"
"Radiates the heat of a beating heart." -Vox
"A poignant, unforgettable novel." -Hernan Diaz
From prize-winning, acclaimed author Laird Hunt, a poignant novel about a woman searching for her place in the world and finding it in the daily rhythms of life in rural Indiana.
"It was Indiana, it was the dirt she had bloomed up out of, it was who she was, what she felt, how she thought, what she knew."
As a girl, Zorrie Underwood's modest and hardscrabble home county was the only constant in her young life. After losing both her parents, Zorrie moved in with her aunt, whose own death orphaned Zorrie all over again, casting her off into the perilous realities and sublime landscapes of rural, Depression-era Indiana. Drifting west, Zorrie survived on odd jobs, sleeping in barns and under the stars, before finding a position at a radium processing plant. At the end of each day, the girls at her factory glowed from the radioactive material.
But when Indiana calls Zorrie home, she finally finds the love and community that have eluded her in and around the small town of Hillisburg. And yet, even as she tries to build a new life, Zorrie discovers that her trials have only begun.
Spanning an entire lifetime, a life convulsed and transformed by the events of the 20th century, Laird Hunt's extraordinary novel offers a profound and intimate portrait of the dreams that propel one tenacious woman onward and the losses that she cannot outrun. Set against a harsh, gorgeous, quintessentially American landscape, this is a deeply empathetic and poetic novel that belongs on a shelf with the classics of Willa Cather, Marilynne Robinson, and Elizabeth Strout.