Caribou Island (Paperback)

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Description


On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, Gary and Irene’s marriage is unraveling. Following the outline of Gary’s old dream and trying to rebuild their life together, they are finally constructing the kind of cabin that drew them to Alaska in the first place. But the onset of an early winter and the overwhelming isolation of the prehistoric wilderness threaten their bond to the core.

Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, Caribou Island is a drama of bitter love and failed dreams—an unforgettable portrait of desolation, violence, and the darkness of the soul.

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. He’s 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.

Praise for Caribou Island…


Caribou Island gets to places other novels can’t touch. . . . Though it wears the clothes of realism—the beautiful exactness of the language, the unerring eye for detail—it takes us someplace darker, older, more powerful than the daylit world.”
-Kevin Canty, New York Times Book Review

“Vann’s beautiful, spare portrait of a marriage’s end casts a singular spell.”
-People

Caribou Island builds to an horrific climax and stands as an engrossing and disturbing work of art.”
-Alan Cheuse, NPR

Legend earned him the acclaim of being one of the best writers of his generation. His first novel is a worthy successor. . . . Caribou Island gives us a climax as haunting and realized as any in recent fiction.”
-Wayne Harrison, San Francisco Chronicle

“Moving, powerful . . . Vann’s people are hurtling irretrievably toward a dark outcome, and while putting the book down might save you from it, you can’t stop reading, just as you can’t unlearn its truths.”
-Caitlin Roper, Los Angeles Times

“Vann forces us to watch, to pay attention. He refuses to provide his characters—or us—with an easy, happy resolution. Instead, he gives us something much more valuable: an unflinching portrait of what can happen to lives when hopes and ambitions wander off, get lost, and surrender to the merciless cold.”
-Kevin Grauke, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Both [Caribou Island and Legend of a Suicide] are intense tragedies set against an unforgiving landscape. Both are delivered in clear, lyric prose. . . . Vann isn’t delivering happy endings, but he is delivering life in crystalline, unforgettable prose.”
-Robin Vidimos, Denver Post

“Vann is a poet of the animal swings between men and women struggling for the upper hand.”
-Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Compelling. As the plot moves toward a gruesome finale, the reader is submerged in ‘slow waves of pressure, water compacting but no edge to it.’”
-New Yorker

“[Vann] has come fully into his own voice, from the striking opening scene to the fateful final sentence.... An oddly exhilarating horror story in which human demons spring from the smoke of their own disappointment and regret. Caribou Island earns Vann a seat beside the masters. A+”
-Sheerly Avni, San Francisco Magazine

“Transfixing and unflinching. . . . Full of finely realized moments. . . . Comparison with Cormac McCarthy is fully justified.”
-Toby Lichtig, Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Greatness has arrived: Caribou Island is a powerful first novel of love, lust, and regret set on an island near Soldotna, a fishing town on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.... Vann slowly and quietly builds the drama toward an emotional gut-punch of an ending—think Cormac McCarthy on ice.”
-Outside Magazine

“[Vann uses] American landscape as a metaphor to tremendous effect. . . . Vann’s brilliance as a writer lies in his willingness to expose everything. . . . A writer to read and reread; a man to watch carefully.”
-The Economist

“An existential page-turner and literary breakthrough. . . . The novel’s primal power, moral depth, and narrative command show the author making a big leap.”
-Don McLeese, Kirkus Reviews

“A taut and riveting study of isolation, insanity, and violence.”
-Bret Anthony Johnston, Men's Journal

“The reader’s awareness of real deaths, real griefs, gives his work something of the lethal intensity of handling an unsheathed knife: at times the power is exhilarating, and at other times it cuts bloodily and to the quick.”
-Olivia Laing, New Statesman

“Bleak, beautifully written and bitterly funny. . . . What really distinguishes Vann’s work is his feel for his wintry setting. . . . But he is, oddly, just as memorable when describing a soul-crushing afternoon at the local fish cannery.”
-Jake Kerridge, Financial Times

“Compared to Caribou Island, The Road is grim-lit lite. . . . Welcome to Vann’s demon land.”
-Ian Sansom, London Review of Books

“Reaffirms Vann as a talented conjurer of the natural world, and of our nakedness in the face of its power and cruel impassivity.”
-Ian Crouch, New Republic

Caribou Island is a beautiful, richly atmospheric if unsettling novel, and deserves to consolidate Vann’s position among America’s literary high flyers.”
-Melanie McGrath, London Evening Standard

“Beautifully gloomy….Compelling….[Caribou Island] triumphs in its juxtaposition of claustrophobia-inducing relationships against the forbidding vastness of our 49th state….Vann uses chiseled phrases and verb-less declarations to evoke the natural ruggedness of the setting as well as the character’s emotional distress.”
-Tyrone Beason, Seattle Times

“As bleak as an Alaskan winter, but it also wields an unforgiving, elemental power that is breathtaking to read.”
-Doug Johnstone, Independent (UK)

“Vann summons an atmosphere of terrestrial and emotional permafrost so intense that it’ll freeze your bones.”
-Lee Randall, Scotsman

“Arguably the first literary masterpiece to take place on the Kenai Peninsula. . . . Like a macabre machine, the narrative ratchets ever tighter until the closing image of one final, forlorn hope that will be smashed as soon as the story-telling stops and the reader closes the book.”
-Mike Dunham, Anchorage Daily News

“Vann keeps the pages turning with the skill of the best mystery novelists.”
-Patrick Condon, Associated Press

“It’s rare when a fiction writer of extraordinary literary merit is equally brilliant in both the short story and novel forms. David Vann is a dazzling exception….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

“In this exceptional first novel by the celebrated author of Legend of a Suicide, an oncoming Alaska winter becomes metaphor as a troubled marriage moves implacably toward a bleak reckoning. Caribou Island is an unflinching portrait of bad faith and bad dreams.”
-Ron Rash, author of Burning Bright

“Vann’s brilliance lies in his willingness to expose all. . . . Desolate, violent, heartbreaking. . . . A striking novel filled with the violence borne of a bitter life.”
-Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Expect to have to stop and think now and then as answers may be hard to find, but the questions are everywhere. Read it and be prepared to expand your mind.”
-The Daily Post (New Zealand)

Product Details ISBN-10: 0061875732
ISBN-13: 9780061875731
Published: Harper Perennial, 01/01/2012
Pages: 320
Language: English