by Bonnie Nadzam
Bonnie Nadzam—author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning debut, Lamb, now a feature film—returns with this scorching, haunting portrait of a rural community in a “living ghost town” on the brink of collapse, and the individuals who are confronted with either chasing their dreams or—against all reason—staying where they are.
Lions is set on the high plains of Colorado, a nearly deserted place, steeped in local legends and sparse in population. Built to be a glorious western city upon a hill, it was never fit for farming, mining, trading, or any of the illusory sources of wealth its pioneers imagined. The Walkers have been settled on its barren terrain for generations—a simple family in a town otherwise still taken in by stories of bigger, better, brighter.
When a traveling stranger appears one day, his unsettling presence sets off a chain reaction that will change the fates of everyone he encounters. It begins with the patriarch John Walker as he succumbs to a heart attack. His devastated son Gordon is forced to choose between leaving for college with his girlfriend, Leigh, and staying with his family to look after their flailing welding shop and, it is believed, to continue carrying out a mysterious task bequeathed to all Walker men. While Leigh is desperate to make a better life in the world beyond the desolation of Lions, Gordon is strangely hesitant to leave it behind. As more families abandon the town, he is faced with what seem to be their reasonable choices and the burden of betraying his own heart.
A story of awakening, Lions is an exquisite novel that explores ambition and an American obsession with self-improvement, the responsibilities we have to ourselves and each other, as well as the everyday illusions that pass for a life worth living.
North American publisher: Grove Press, July 2016
Audiobook publisher: Blackstone
Foreign rights sold: Italy (Clichy)
Foreign rights contact: Allison Devereux, Wolf Literary Services
Film/TV rights contact: Kate Johnson, Wolf Literary Services
Set in a rural heartland town so close to death its few remaining residents mingle with ghosts, Lions is a wonderfully original and unsettling novel about the stories we tell ourselves, the lies we tell each other, and the dreams we all cling to in this place called America. Bonnie Nadzam crafts novels the way born storytellers spin yarns around the campfire, her patient, hushed voice drawing us ever closer until she’s convinced us of the impossible.”—Mike Harvkey, author of In the Course of Human Events
Here comes Lions: a glittering duststorm, spinning every fantasy of the West, of small town America, together with the truth of a set of lives as real and precise as our own. Sweep us, up, Bonnie Nadzam, we are all yours.”—Ramona Ausubel, author of No One Is Here Except All of Us
From the very first sentence of this masterfully crafted and pitch perfect novel, Bonnie Nazdam takes us on a journey of loyalty, ethical decisions and layered family histories. Ghosts—of the past, of story, of place, of the future—collide with a desperate haunting melancholy.”—Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas
Some authors produce. Product. As if without ever touching it. Others rip out a piece of themselves from their deeeeep cardiopulmonary region and give to us a quirky thumping live thing. You did that, Bonnie Nadzam. Thank you!”—Carolyn Chute, author of Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves
Like some of the characters in the beautifully wrought and haunting Lions, I too have been torn between leaving the place where I was born and raised and moving elsewhere—always imagining greener pastures, so to speak. If I could write a story even half as gorgeous and alive as Nadzam’s novel about familial loyalty and shattered dreams, I’d die a happy man.”—Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff and The Devil All the Time
I’m so haunted by this beautiful, mesmerizing book, by its stories of ghosts and those living among them, by its suspense, its mystery, its atmosphere. Nadzam depicts these stark landscapes with a poetic sweep, with grit, with elements of the fantastical that are stunningly, vividly real.”—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola
Bonnie Nadzam—author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning debut, Lamb—returns with this scorching, haunting portrait of a rural community in a ‘living ghost town’ on the brink of collapse, and the individuals who are confronted with either chasing their dreams or—against all reason—staying where they are.”—BookRiot, 2016’s Best Books from Independent Presses
Haunting . . . Nadzam weaves ghosts, myths, longing, and an aching American landscape into a fascinating fable about the lengths we go to for the people we love.”—Royal Young, Interview Magazine
An evocative novel of place, set on the brooding frontier . . . [Nadzam] conveys both the reckless certainty of youth and its accompanying lurch of dread.”—Christian Science Monitor
Nadzam’s knack for powerful storytelling establishes the mystery of this dying town as a truly American fairy tale, while her unforgettable characters elevate the legend to an introspective meditation on love, loyalty, and ambition.”—Booklist
[A] memorable novel . . . Nadzam weaves a strange and mesmerizing story.”—Publishers Weekly
With more people sharing our nation’s increasingly finite space, and with our planet and its ecological systems imperiled, an educated understanding of the intrinsic value of geography and place is vital. Nadzam’s Lions offers an original and intense opportunity to meditate on, mourn and celebrate the complexities of our transforming natural world and its symbiosis with our fundamental selves.”—The Mercury