An exquisite page-turner from the winner of the 2015 Frank O'Connor Award is "a tightly knit, compulsively readable tale...with all the heft of a sprawling western classic" (Booklist, starred review).
When widowed mule breeder Cy Bellman reads in the newspaper that colossal ancient bones have been discovered in the salty Kentucky mud, he sets out from his small Pennsylvania farm to see for himself if the rumors are true: that the giant monsters are still alive and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River. Promising to write and to return within two years, he leaves behind his daughter, Bess, to the tender mercies of his taciturn sister, Julie, and heads west. With only a barnyard full of miserable animals and her dead mother's gold ring to call her own, Bess, unprotected and approaching womanhood, fills lonely days tracing her father's route on maps at the subscription library in town and waiting for his letters to arrive. Bellman, meanwhile, wanders farther and farther from home, across harsh and alien landscapes in reckless pursuit of the unknown.
From Frank O'Connor Award winner Carys Davies, "West taps the spirit of the great quest novels of Twain, Melville, Cervantes, but with a gentle feminist twist and a fraction of the page count" (The Toronto Star). "Moving, atmospheric" (Real Simple), West is a spellbinding and timeless epic-in-miniature, an eerie parable of the American frontier, and an electric monument to possibility--"the sort of book that warms even as it devastates, that forces serious reflection and yet charms" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
'West is a journey and a wonder. A man leaves what he loves and goes west in search of the amazing. A story concerned with value and language, love and absence, life and death. A debut of real distinction.' * Bernard MacLaverty, author of Midwinter Break and Cal * 'A story of determination, betrayal, folly, and reckless hope written in the grand tradition of the pioneers. You enter the familiar American frontier and shortly are convinced, with Davies' hero, that the mammoths of the Pleistocene still shyly roam the Plains. The seams between imagination and history in this extraordinary story are invisible. I believed every word.' * Salvatore Scibona, author of The End * 'Menace and mordant wit are the blood that runs through these veins, but there's a pulse of wonder in Carys Davies' West. She sees the world and its inhabitants both as we hope they are and as we fear that they might be. An audacious and enigmatic debut of thrilling dimensions, and a reminder of fiction's possibilities.' * Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life and A Life of Adventure and Delight * 'West has all the stark power and immediacy of a folk-tale or a legend. It is also structured with great artistry, a beguiling sense of form and pace, and a depth in the way the characters are created, making clear that Carys Davies is a writer of immense talent.' * Colm Toibin, author of Brooklyn and House of Names * `Carys Davies deserves every accolade she has received.' * Elizabeth Harrower *
Carys Davies is the author of Some New Ambush and The Redemption of Galen Pike, published in one volume by Text as The Travellers and Other Stories. She won the 2015 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Born in Wales, she lives in Lancaster in northwest England.