“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.
Praise For Zorrie:
“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
“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.”
About Laird Hunt:
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.