Summary and book reviews of Inland by Téa Obreht

Inland

by Téa Obreht

Inland by Téa Obreht X
Inland by Téa Obreht
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2020, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Dean Muscat
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About this Book

Book Summary

The New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger's Wife returns with a stunning tale of perseverance - an epic journey across an unforgettable landscape of magic and myth.

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives collide. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.

Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Nora's and Lurie's stories intertwine is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.

Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht's talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely—and unforgettably—her own.

The Missouri

When those men rode down to the fording place last night, I thought us done for. Even you must realize how close they came: their smell, the song of their bridles, the whites of their horses' eyes. True to form—blind though you are, and with that shot still irretrievable in your thigh—you made to stand and meet them. Perhaps I should have let you. It might have averted what happened tonight, and the girl would be unharmed. But how could I have known? I was unready, disbelieving of our fate, and in the end could only watch them cross and ride up the wash away from us in the moonlight. And wasn't I right to wait—for habit if nothing else? I knew you had flight in you yet. You still do; as do I, as I have all my life—since long before we fell in together, when I first came round to myself, six years old and already on the run, wave-rocked, with my father in the bunk beside me and all around the hiss of water against the hull. It was my father running ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Attempting to encapsulate Inland's many sprawling story-tendrils within a neat synopsis is to do this bewitching novel a great disservice. We may only follow two central protagonists, but from the get-go Obreht gives voice to a legion of lives and spirits that put flesh on the bones of a majestic, untamed American West unburdened by stale cowboy-and-Indian tropes. Episode after suspenseful episode fizzes with life thanks to shimmering prose and rippling turns of phrase...continued

Full Review (568 words).

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(Reviewed by Dean Muscat).

Media Reviews

New York Times
As it should be, the landscape of the West itself is a character, thrillingly...Obreht’s simple but rich prose captures and luxuriates in the West’s beauty and sudden menace. Remarkable in a novel with such a sprawling cast, Obreht also has a poetic touch for writing intricate and precise character descriptions...In Obreht’s hands, this is an era that overflows with what the dead want, and with wants that lead to death. Her two central characters may not be who we have been conditioned to think of when we conjure the old American West, but they too are America.

NPR
Inland is a classic story, told in a classic way — and yet it feels wholly and unmistakably new...Obreht offers a new representation of the West, both in the characters she chooses and the emotional rigor and range with which she writes. The result is at once a new Western myth and a far realer story than many we have previously received — and that's even with all the ghosts.

Entertainment Weekly
A bracingly epic and imaginatively mythic journey across the American West in 1893, in which the lives of a former outlaw and a frontierswoman collide and intertwine.

Washington Post
[A] voyage of hilarious and harrowing adventures...The unsettling haze between fact and fantasy in Inland is not just a literary effect of Obreht’s gorgeous prose; it’s an uncanny representation of the indeterminate nature of life in this place of brutal geography.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Eight years after Obreht's sensational debut, The Tiger's Wife, she returns with a novel saturated in enough realism and magic to make the ghost of Gabriel García Márquez grin...The final, luminous chapter is six pages that will take your breath away

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The novel's unforgettable finale, evocative and grimly symbolic, crystallizes its underlying themes of how inconsolable grief and unforgivable betrayal shape the circumstances that bind its characters to their fates. Obreht knocks it out of the park in her second novel.

Booklist (starred review)
Obreht inventively and scathingly dramatizes the delirium of the West—its myths, hardships, greed, racism, sexism, and violence—in a tornadic novel of stoicism, anguish, and wonder.

Library Journal (starred review)
National Book Award finalist Obreht suspensefully reimagines an extraordinary American West filled with larger-than-life characters, imaginary marauding beasts, and ghosts who commune with the living.

Reader Reviews

GerrieB

A Haunting Journey Through The American West.
Inland captivated me from the beginning. It is that rare story, one that once I reached the end I wanted to go back to the beginning and start again. There are so many pieces that Obreht provides that lay there waiting, and yet somehow are carried ...   Read More

Reid

Strange and wondrous
I am not surprised to see that this strange and wondrous novel has generated a wide range of opinions, that it is found by some to be opaque or even pointless. As with Obreht's previous novel, The Tiger's Wife, there is a bit of magical realism to ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Camel Corps of the U.S. Army

Painting of U.S. Army camels by Thomas LovellA key section of Téa Obreht's novel Inland takes place among the Camel Corps, a real-life mid-19th-century experiment conducted by the United States Army attempting to introduce camels as beasts of burden in the Southwestern territories.

This seemingly madcap idea originated when the army found they needed to vastly improve transportation in the arid, barren Southwest. The inhospitable terrain was not dissimilar to the great deserts of Egypt, and several high officials recommended that the War Department introduce camels to the army due to their strength, endurance and capacity to travel great lengths with minimal need for food, water and rest. In 1848, Mexican-American War veteran Major Henry C. Wayne put forward an official ...

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