Robert Olen Butler
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence 2017
Profound and poignant, Perfume River is a masterful novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.
Profound and poignant, Perfume River is a masterful novel that examines blood ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.
Robert Quinlan and his wife Darla teach at Florida State University. Their marriage, forged in the fervour of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee, solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain below the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. William Quinlan, Robert and Jimmy’s father and a veteran of World War II, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across all their lives once again when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside. And a disturbed homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a devastating impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.
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