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A heartfelt, daring, divinely hilarious debut novel about a priest who embarks on a fateful journey with a pistol in his pocket and an injured coyote in his backseat.
Father Dan is homeless. Dismissed by his conservative diocese for eccentricity and insubordination, he’s made his exile into a kind of pilgrimage, transforming his Toyota Camry into a mobile monk’s cell. Like the ascetic religious philosophers he idolizes, he intends to spend his trip in peaceful contemplation. But then he sees a minivan sideswipe a coyote. Unable to suppress his Franciscan impulses, he takes the wild animal in, wrapping its broken leg with an old T-shirt and feeding it Spam with a plastic spoon.
With his unexpected canine companion in the backseat, Dan makes his way west, encountering other offbeat travelers and stopping to take in the occasional roadside novelty (MARTIN’S HOLE TO HELL, WORLD-FAMOUS BOTTOMLESS PIT NEXT EXIT!). But the coyote is far from the only oddity fate has delivered into this churchless priest’s care: it has also given him a bone-handled pistol, a box of bullets, and a letter from his estranged friend Paul—a summons of sorts, pulling him forward.
By the time Dan gets to where he’s going, he’ll be forced to reckon once and for all with the great mistakes of his past, and he will have to decide: is penance better paid with revenge, or with redemption?
“A beautiful and meditative exploration of shattered faith. Daniel Hornsby follows a damaged priest’s journey through the American heartland a er a disturbing discovery shakes his belief in the church to which he has devoted his life. A quietly devastating book from an exciting new voice.” —Brit Bennett, author of The Mothers
“Daniel Hornsby’s Via Negativa is a novel of daring possibilities. As brief as it is, its scope is as large as an epic as it tackles questions of theology, spirituality, and modernity, among others, in prose shot through with humor and grace. It is an assured novel waiting patiently to be noticed.” —Chigozie Obioma, author of The Fishermen and An Orchestra of Minorities
“In Via Negativa, a retired priest living ‘on the edge of the outside’ drives across the country with an injured coyote in the backseat, reckoning with his demons and the question of what we owe to other people. is quietly wise and graceful novel knows so much about what we don’t know, about visions and signs and everyday tragedy, ‘the cloud of unknowing.’ A book to savor in lonely times.” —Elisa Gabbert, author of The Unreality of Memory
“I loved this book. In a remarkable feat of storytelling, Daniel Hornsby fuses the great American road novel with a harrowing dissection of contemporary Catholicism, and, improbably, makes it all ridiculously fun. There’s not a mannered or self-conscious sentence in this ingenious account of the current, weird America; it’s generous, honest, and consistently surprising. It’s a fantastic piece of work.” —Andrew Martin, author of Early Work