Talking Location With author Olja Knežević – MONTENEGRO
The Shaman of Turtle Valley
The author of the award-winning What the Zhang Boys Know ( …utterly beautiful and unforgettable Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang) now gives us a heart-rending first novel about love, displacement, and the powerful ghosts that haunt so many families. The Alexanders have farmed the land in Turtle Valley for generations, and their family and its history is tied to this mountainous region of Virginia in ways few others can claim. When Gulf War veteran Aiken Alexander brings home a young and pregnant South Korean bride, he hopes at long last to claim his own place in that complicated history coming out from behind the shadow of his tragically killed older brother and taking up a new place in his father’s affections. However, things do not go according to plan. While he loves his young son, his wife, Soon-hee, can’t or won’t adjust to life in America. Her behavior growing stranger and stranger to Aiken’s eyes every day until the marriage reaches a breaking point. When Soon-hee disappears with their son, Aiken’s life and dreams truly fall apart. He loses his job, is compelled to return to the family home, and falls prey to all his worst impulses. It is at this low point that Aiken’s story becomes interwoven with a dubious Alexander family history, one that pitted brother against brother and now cousin against cousin, in a perfect storm of violence and dysfunction. Drawing on Korean beliefs in spirits and shamanism, how Aiken solves these problems both corporeal and spiritual is at the center of this dynamic and beautifully written debut novel.
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