“It was Indiana, it was the dirt she had bloomed up out of, it was who she was, what she felt, how she thought, what she knew.”
As a girl, Zorrie Underwood's modest and hardscrabble home county was the only constant in her young life. After losing both her parents, Zorrie moved in with her aunt, whose own death orphaned Zorrie all over again, casting her off into the perilous realities and sublime landscapes of rural, Depression-era Indiana. Drifting west, Zorrie survived on odd jobs, sleeping in barns and under the stars, before finding a position at a radium processing plant. At the end of each day, the girls at her factory glowed from the radioactive material.
But when Indiana calls Zorrie home, she finally finds the love and community that have eluded her in and around the small town of Hillisburg. And yet, even as she tries to build a new life, Zorrie discovers that her trials have only begun.
Spanning an entire lifetime, a life convulsed and transformed by the events of the 20th century, Laird Hunt's extraordinary novel offers a profound and intimate portrait of the dreams that propel one tenacious woman onward and the losses that she cannot outrun. Set against a harsh, gorgeous, quintessentially American landscape, this is a deeply empathetic and poetic novel that belongs on a shelf with the classics of Willa Cather, Marilynne Robinson, and Elizabeth Strout.
About the Author
Laird Hunt is the author of eight novels, a collection of stories, and two book-length translations from the French. He has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and won the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Fiction, the Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine, and Italy's Bridge prize. His reviews and essays have been published in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and many others. He teaches in the Literary Arts program at Brown University and lives in Providence.
“This is not a just book you are holding in your hands; it is a life. Laird Hunt gives us here the portrait of a woman painted with the finest brush imaginable, while also rendering great historical shifts with bold single strokes. A poignant, unforgettable novel, Zorrie is Hunt at his best.” —Hernan Diaz, author of IN THE DISTANCE, a Pulitzer Prize Finalist
“A sweeping, lyrical and profound portrait of a remarkable woman moving through the perils and wonders of 20th century American life. Zorrie will break your heart with its propulsive beauty, depth and grace.” —Mona Awad, author of BUNNY
“With patience, precision and language so clear and generous, you feel as if you are being handed a precious and fragile truth, Laird Hunt brings us an indelible portrait of a twentieth century American woman. Zorrie travels through her years with a straightforward decency that nevertheless does not shield her from harm, heartbreak, yearning, and a hard-won recognition of joy. It takes Hunt only a hundred and fifty pages to take us from one end of Zorrie's life to the other, and yet I closed the book feeling that I had read an epic.” —Marisa Silver, bestselling author of MARY COIN and LITTLE NOTHING
“Zorrie is a beautiful novel. It is gentle, yet full of surprises, and Zorrie, the protagonist who loves her farm and Elvis, is a wonderful creation.” —Roddy Doyle, author of LOVE and A STAR CALLED HENRY
“Laird Hunt's Zorrie is compelling from its first page, the prosody like a "bolt of crinoline and serge and silk." Zorrie is "no giant," but her life is as full and satisfying as the short novel, fecund with grain and clover, sweetgrass and damp earth, love, loss, and radiant Luna dust. I read it, with great pleasure, in one sitting.” —Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of HEADS OF THE COLORED PEOPLE
“Through an ordinary life of hard work and simple pleasures, Zorrie comes to learn the real wonder is life itself. A quiet, beautifully done, and memorable novel.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“Quietly effective. [Hunt's] often lyrical prose traces Zorrie's hopes, griefs, loneliness, and resolve with remarkable economy…A touching, tightly woven story from an always impressive author.” —Kirkus, Starred Review
“Zorrie lives and breathes, as a character and as a book. In its natural movement, its joys embraced and sorrows faced, it is a moving portrait of one woman's life -- and so, by extension, a portrait of all of our lives. Laird Hunt has such a gift for clear and precise language, for conjuring the details that matter; the rhythms of mid-century mid-America are brought into being with subtle power. Eerily lit, at times, by a radium glow, this is a luminous book.” —Erica Wagner, author of CHIEF ENGINEER
“Hunt's storytelling flows smoothly, its rhythms unperturbed by preciousness or superfluous detail. Fans of Kent Haruf's Plainsong trilogy will love this subtle tale of rural life.” —Publishers Weekly
“Hunt celebrates the majesty and depth in a life that may superficially seem undistinguished… With compassion and realism, Hunt recounts Zorrie's story straightforwardly, with setting-appropriate dialogue and an eye for sensory details… A beautifully written ode to the rural Midwest.” —Booklist
“[Hunt] has fashioned an edge of-the-seat experience more akin to watching a horror movie. . . . So prepare yourself. This is a perfect book to read when you're safely tucked in your home.” —New York Times Book Review on IN THE HOUSE IN THE DARK OF THE WOODS
“Engrossing... The book's greatest strength is its striking, sensual prose.” —The New Yorker on IN THE HOUSE IN THE DARK OF THE WOODS
“This trim epic... succeeds largely because Constance's voice sounds so historically distant, like a foreign cousin of our own era....What a rare pleasure to spend a few hours listening to the natural poetry of that antique voice.” —The Washington Post on NEVERHOME
“Rarely, a voice so compels it's as if we're furtively eaves-dropping on a whispered confession, which is how I felt reading Neverhome. Ash... is entirely Hunt's own creation. His ability to evoke her demeanor and circumstances in a gorgeously written sentence or two is one of the book's many pleasures.” —Karen Abbott, The New York Times Book Review, on NEVERHOME
“Inspired by true stories of women who fought, this plainspoken story packs firepower.” —People on NEVERHOME
“Startles with its power.” —O, the Oprah Magazine on NEVERHOME
“Hunt's page-turner is not only a gripping story of love and war, but an homage to oral histories and quelled voices.” —The Huffington Post on NEVERHOME
“A strange, dazzling novel, as audacious as it is lyrical, The Evening Road hauls up insight, sorrow, and even--somehow--wit from the well of American history.” —Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of ROOM on THE EVENING ROAD
“The Evening Road is a vivid, disturbing book, able to subvert itself in half a line, constantly challenging the reader's expectations. Its ghost map is quickly established in the reader's head, and as the characters fade into the margin of the final page, it is as if an inner landscape has altered. It is mature, accomplished, impressive.” —Hilary Mantel, author of WOLF HALL, on THE EVENING ROAD
“Zorrie is a quiet novel about an ordinary life. And when you're ordinary, you need resilience like Zorrie's to survive in an uncaring world. Laird Hunt's short and affecting novel follows Zorrie Underwood's life from childhood in Depression-era Indiana, when she's orphaned, to early adulthood, when she's left on her own, to an eventual marriage and working life.” —O Magazine's Most Anticipated Historical Fiction Novels of 2021