“Brandon Hobson has given us a haunted work, full of voices old and new. It is about a family’s reckoning with loss and injustice, and it is about a people trying for the same. The journey of this family’s way home is full—in equal measure—of melancholy and love. The Removed is spirited, droll, and as quietly devastating as rain lifting from earth to sky.”
—Tommy Orange, author of There There
A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM
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Steeped in Cherokee myths and history, a novel about a fractured family reckoning with the tragic death of their son long ago—from National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson
In the fifteen years since their teenage son, Ray-Ray, was killed in a police shooting, the Echota family has been suspended in private grief. The mother, Maria, increasingly struggles to manage the onset of Alzheimer’s in her husband, Ernest. Their adult daughter, Sonja, leads a life of solitude, punctuated only by spells of dizzying romantic obsession. And their son, Edgar, fled home long ago, turning to drugs to mute his feelings of alienation.
With the family’s annual bonfire approaching—an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death, and a rare moment in which they openly talk about his memory—Maria attempts to call the family together from their physical and emotional distances once more. But as the bonfire draws near, each of them feels a strange blurring of the boundary between normal life and the spirit world. Maria and Ernest take in a foster child who seems to almost miraculously keep Ernest’s mental fog at bay. Sonja becomes dangerously fixated on a man named Vin, despite—or perhaps because of—his ties to tragedy in her lifetime and lifetimes before. And in the wake of a suicide attempt, Edgar finds himself in the mysterious Darkening Land: a place between the living and the dead, where old atrocities echo.
Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, The Removed seamlessly blends the real and spiritual to excavate the deep reverberations of trauma—a meditation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on both a personal and ancestral level.
“The Removed is a marvel. With a few sly gestures, a humble array of piercingly real characters and an apparently effortless swing into the dire dreamlife, Brandon Hobson delivers an act of regeneration and solace. You won’t forget it.” —Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective
About the Author
Brandon Hobson is the author of the novel Where the Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction and winner of the Reading the West Book Award. His other books include Desolation of Avenues Untold and the novella Deep Ellum. His work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology, The Believer, the Paris Review Daily, Conjunctions, NOON, and McSweeney’s, among other places. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at New Mexico State University and teaches in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.
"Blurring the boundaries between the tangible and the spiritual, Brandon Hobson’s latest novel draws on Cherokee folklore to offer a moving meditation on family, home, and ancestral trauma."
— Harper’s Bazaar
"Stunning.... Hobson uses Cherokee folklore to great effect in this profound, powerful look at the ways in which trauma — both recent and generational — infuses every aspect of our lives, but that it is possible to heal, to recover without ever forgetting what happened and what is still owed in order to reach a place of true understanding."
— Refinery 29
“Splendid…. Hobson, a National Book Award finalist for his novel Where the Dead Sit Talking, weaves strands of the past and present so skillfully that events that would be improbable in the hands of another author are inevitable in The Removed. More than anything, in the case of the beleaguered Echota family, Hobson understands William Faulkner’s adage, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’”
"If we tell ourselves stories to expand our worldview, then modern literature is one of society’s most powerful tools.... Rich in Cherokee folklore."
— San Francisco Chronicle
"You’ll be sucked right in, and you won’t be able to put it down."
"A disconnected web of tragedies—loss, loneliness, dementia, and drugs—draw together a disparate Cherokee family in this powerful novel that blurs the lines between spiritual and earthly. Pulling from centuries-old Cherokee folklore to ground this present-day tale, Brandon Hobson has built a grave and unforgettable legend."
"Drawing from Cherokee folklore, Hobson mines the lasting effects of trauma and grief, showcasing the quietly divergent paths of each family member—one struggling to manage a husband’s Alzheimers, another filling solitude with romantic fancies, and the other slipping into addiction. Here, we are witnesses to mourning. Here, we sit with the power and strength of personal and ancestral stories."
— Literary Hub
"Hobson’s last novel...was a finalist for the National Book Award, and I’ll eat my pajamas if his new novel — which is also set in Oklahoma and deepens Hobson’s themes of displacement and violence — doesn’t get a nom too."
"For characters who stay with you long after the final chapter, The Removed is a look at the struggles, fears and hopes of one Cherokee family and their ancestors."
"Hobson is a master storyteller and illustrates in gently poetic prose how for many Native Americans the line between this world and the next isn’t so sharp. This will stay long in readers’ minds."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Mesmerizing…. Spare, strange, bird-haunted, and mediated by grief, the novel defies its own bleakness as its calls forth a delicate and monumental endurance.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)