For her acclaimed collection of stories, Red Ant House, Joyce Carol Oates hailed Ann Cummins as a master storyteller. The San Francisco Chronicle called her startlingly original. Now, in her debut novel, Cummins stakes claim to rich new literary territory with a story of straddling cultures and cheating fate in the American Southwest. Yellowcake introduces us to two unforgettable familiesone Navajo, one Anglosome thirty years after the closing of the uranium mill near which they once made their homes. When little Becky Atcitty shows up on the Mahoneys doorstep all grown up, the past comes crashing in on Ryland and his lively brood. Becky, the daughter of one of the Navajo mill workers Ryland had supervised, is now involved in a group seeking damages for those harmed by the radioactive dust that contaminated their world. But Ryland wants no part of dredging up their pastor acknowledging his future. When his wife joins the cause, the messy, modern lives of this eclectic cast of characters collide once again, testing their mettle, stretching their faith, and reconnecting past and present in unexpected new ways.
Finely crafted, deeply felt, and bursting with heartache and hilarity, Yellowcake is a moving story of how everyday people sort their way through life, with all its hidden hazards.
The result is a novel that is both compassionate and wise, that not only explores the legacy of radiation sickness but also illness and aging, and the misunderstandings that can arise between generations and cultures. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
A tightly drawn and absorbing novel of the modern American Southwest, exploring themes of aging, illness, cultural misunderstandings, and strained family relationships honestly and realistically while also offering a strong regional flavor.
Cummins avoids distracting polemics, interweaving the personal and political with quiet authority.
Booklist - Donna Seaman
Starred Review. Cummins brilliantly conflates the insidious damage wrought by radiation sickness with the maladies of the soul caused by prejudice, poverty, nature's abuse, and love's betrayal.
Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind and A Feather on the Breath of God
Already much admired for her superb short stories, Ann Cummins excels once more with a first novel that places her among the most serious and original writers of her generation.
Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier
A gorgeous novel about people who are as tender and ornery and passionate and mixed-up and real as the people we know in real life. I loved them, and I love this book.
Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and Esther Stories
Glorious . . . an unflinchingly honest look at the struggles faced by so-called ordinary Americans. But there is nothing at all ordinary about the wonderful, fully fleshed characters that populate this book. Cummins knows the souls of her people — an incredibly wide range of them — and she knows her place, a Southwest that is rendered in all its unromantic but somehow blessed beauty.
Did you know?
According to the
Uranium Information Center:
Over half of the world's
production of uranium is
from mines in Australia and
8 mining companies
account for almost 80% of
Nuclear energy supplies
over 16% of the world's
31 countries use nuclear
energy to generate
80% of France's
electricity is from nuclear
Over 12,000 reactor
years of operational
experience have been
accumulated since the 1950s
by the world's 440 nuclear
power reactors (and nuclear
reactors powering naval
vessels have clocked up a
The powerful and inspiring debut from Susan Nussbaum invites us into a landscape populated with young people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by misfortune but whose voices resound with resilience, courage, and humor.
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