Author(s): Tim Gautreaux
After World War I, Sam Simoneaux returns to New Orleans determined to leave mayhem and destruction behind, and to start anew with his wife years after losing a son to illness.
But when a little girl disappears from the department store where he works, he has no recourse but to join her musician parents on a Mississippi excursion steamboat, hoping to unearth clues somewhere along the river.
Though ill-prepared for the lawless hinterland, where violence is just another way of life, he enforces tolerable behavior onboard and ventures ashore to piece together what happened to the girl - making a discovery that not only endangers everyone involved but also sheds new light on the murder of his own family decades before.
Steeped in the music and langorous rhythms of prohibition Louisiana, this is a gripping tale of redemption, vengeance and moral choice. Relentlessly suspensful and deeply moving, it is the finest demonstration yet of Gautreaux's ability to render landscape, history and hope.
Praise for -- THE CLEARING 'An extraordinary novel, one of the best I've read in years' -- Annie Proulx, Guardian Summer Books 'So firmly located and vividly realised that you can almost smell the Louisiana swampwater ... a gripping, action-packed tale, but also a notably intelligent one' -- Jem Poster, Guardian 'Near-perfect ... untouchably good' -- Alan Warner, Daily Telegraph Summer Books 'Astonishingly powerful ... brilliantly written and the characters in their mire are superbly realised' -- Daily Telegraph 'Carries an emotional charge far beyond its pages...I cannot recommend it highly enough.' -- Peter Straus, Literary Review 'He captures the fetid atmosphere of a frontier society poised to join the modern world with great skill, each sentence polished to perfection' -- Independent on Sunday 'Compels you forward like a handcar on a downhill slope, until the final escape...you read it in wonder' -- Kent Haruf 'It presents the reader with an interesting dilemma: do you give in to the stifling suspense and read quickly, to find out what happens to the novel's vivid characters, or do you go slow, savoring each delicious sentence, and thereby risking, by the climax, a nervous breakdown?' -- Richard Russo 'A marvelous evocation of time and place merges seamlessly with Gautreaux's powerful and timeless story' -- William Gay
Born and raised in Louisiana, Tim Gautreaux lives there still with his family and is Writer-in-Residence at Southeastern Louisiana University. His stories have been published in Harper's, the Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Zoetrope, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and Best American Short Stories, and collected in two volumes. Acclaimed as 'one of the best writers to have emerged in the 1990s' by Kirkus Reviews, his first novel, THE NEXT STEP IN THE DANCE won the 1999 SEBA Book Award, and was followed in 2003 by highly acclaimed THE CLEARING. In 2005, he was awarded the John Dos Passos Prize.