Gold Fame Citrus
Claire Vaye Watkins
Haunting and beautifully written first novel by the award-winning author of Battleborn, set among a cult of survivors in a dystopian American desert
‘A Mad Max world painted with a finer brush’ Elle
‘An unforgettable journey into a hauntingly imagined near-future’ Ruth Ozeki
‘Set in a drought-ravaged Southern California trolled by scavengers, Gold Fame Citrus burns with a dizzying, scorching genius’ Vanity Fair
Desert sands have laid waste to the south-west of America. Las Vegas is buried. California – and anyone still there – is stranded. Any way out is severely restricted. But Luz and Ray are not leaving. They survive on water rations, black market fruit and each other’s need. Luz needs Ray, and Ray must be needed. But then they cross paths with a mysterious child, who needs them more than anything – and the thirst for a better life begins.
Claire Vaye Watkins’s much-anticipated and lauded first novel delivers on her promise as one of America’s best new writers.
A Mad Max world painted with a finer brush . . . beautiful and profoundly unsettling * Elle * California has always been the place where they went to start it big. Lured by 'gold, fame, citrus' as a character puts it, a phrase on which her book is a fascinating, dystopian fugue . . . Like McCarthy, her desert landscapes are dense as well as barren, not just in the physical detail with which they're rendered, but the significance with which characters imbue them . . . A powerful portrait of an apocalypse less the result of external catastrophe, than familiar human failings -- Sam Kitchener * Independent * A wild book conveying the allure of people improvising, as well as the strange charm of the landscape . . . Vaye Watkins is well versed in the region's seductive myths . . . It is hard not to read the demise of idealogy as well as collapsing ecology as the driving force [ . . .] a contemporary distrust of power, whoever wields it [. . .] even her pleasure in language reflects back a suspicion of rhetoric that seeks to persuade . . . The complexities of emotion and power is probed so intelligently -- Kate Webb * Times Literary Supplement * The empty swimming pools and intense light conjure JG Ballard's environmental dystopias as well as Margaret Atwood's . . . Both nail-biting and digressive, at times lushly overwritten, at times wryly incisive, but always powerful . . . Vaye Watkins' portrait of Levi, the leader of the sand dune colony, is a tour de force: chilling, beguiling, paranoid, convincing and pathetic by turns. . . Her novel certainly cuts deep in its vision of overwhelming natural power . . . most of all in her extraordinary creation of the dune sea . . . too vast for human comprehension, yet at the same time a tabula rasa for each fragile individual's desires, it's a classic example of the Romantic sublime, as mesmerising as it is deadly -- Justine Jordan * Guardian * Watkins writes with grace, wit and imagination in her first novel . . . Watkins's writing engrosses because she is mainly concerned with how people behave in extreme circumstances; no matter how strange the background, her characters stay believable -- Kate Saunders * The Times * Watkins's apocalyptic new novel seems a revisionist refit of McCarthy's The Road . . . that (unlike The Road) puts female characters centre-stage in a geographically vivid setting. The style hits you first . . . Formidably wrought -- Anthony Cummins * Daily Telegraph * Like the best stories in her 2013 Dylan Thomas Prize-winning collection Battleborn, the narrative focuses on left-behind people and left-behind places - those who exist at the periphery of destructive events . . . Which may make it surprising to say that this book is also funny. It's funny in the way that a Joy Williams or Mary Gaitskill or Flannery O'Connor story is funny. It's laughter in the dark, the comedy of unending struggle . . . The sentences in Gold Fame Citrus are alive in ways the sun-blasted landscape isn't, and therein lies the hope -- Jonathan Lee * Financial Times * Extraordinary power and beauty . . . A great pleasure of the book is Watkins's fearlessness * New York Times * She's sharp, at times merciless, and never above a little fun . . . The book is instantly entrancing, alluring as a mirage, and filled with peril, mystery, sandstorms, the occult, and a cast of nuanced characters * Los Angeles Magazine * Watkins brings a gorgeous sense of language and a native desert-dweller's understanding of California to her audacious and dystopian first novel . . . The drought, the desperation and the fantasy built by the guru all feel disturbingly real * BBC * American odyssey: Set in a drought-ravaged Southern California trolled by scavengers, Gold Fame Citrus burns with a dizzying, scorching genius * Vanity Fair * The book is packed with persuasive detail, luminous writing, and a grasp of the history (popular, political, natural and imagined) needed to tell a story that is original yet familiar, strange yet all too believable * Publisher's Weekly * A sun-hammered fever dream, not unlike the shimmering, sweltering southwest it depicts. Your heart will be wrung out by the journey of Luz, Raymond, and Ig. Your imagination will feast on the assured depiction of a near-future that is burnt to a crisp. And you'll hope it's all a mirage as Watkins renders a hot and very plausible future the frightening force of a burning inevitability * Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek * Exhilarating, upsetting, delirious, bold, Gold Fame Citrus is a head rush of a novel and establishes Claire Vaye Watkins as an important new voice in American literature * Louise Erdrich, author of The Round House * Set in an increasingly plausible-seeming future in which drought has transformed Southern California into a howling wasteland, this debut novel by the author of the prize-winning story collection Battleborn finds two refugees of the water wars holed up in a starlet's abandoned mansion in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon. Seeking lusher landscape, the pair head east, risking attack by patrolling authorities, roving desperadoes, and the unrelenting sun * The Millions - most anticipated books of 2015 * An unforgettable journey into a hauntingly imagined near-future. With her mind-bending vision, breathtaking storytelling and utterly original voice, Claire Vaye Watkins is one of my favorite writers * Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being * A gripping, audacious novel, plausibly imagined in all its remarkable details. With Claire Vaye Watkins there was never promise: it was achievement from the start, and this book repays her admirers in spades * Thomas McGuane * A tour-de-force first novel blisters with drought, myth, and originality . . . Praised for writing landscape, Watkins' grasp of the body is just as rousing . . . Critics will reference Annie Proulx's bite and Joan Didion's hypnotic West, but Watkins is magnificently original * Kirkus * An extraordinary novel: relentlessly brilliant, utterly fearless, and often savagely funny. Watkins explores the maze of human thirst in all its forms. Here's a love story that tracks the mutating hopes of two lost souls, in prose that is fever-bright and ferociously assured. More confirmation that Watkins is one of the brightest stars in our firmament * Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia and Vampires in the Lemon Grove *
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