Perpetual West

A Novel

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Pub Date 25 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 15 Feb 2022

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Description

Perpetual West is an ambitious novel rendered in striking, sensual prose. Maren creates a vivid, precise, and complex sense of place; she shows us how cultural and physical geography shape who we are, what we do, and how the world understands us.” —Dana Spiotta, author of Wayward  

The riveting, brilliant new novel by the critically-acclaimed author of Sugar Run, Perpetual West is a brilliant and evocative story of borders—between the United States and Mexico, between lovers, and between facets of the self.

When Alex and Elana move from smalltown Virginia to El Paso, they are just a young married couple, intent on a new beginning. Mexican by birth but adopted by white American Pentecostal parents, Alex is hungry to learn about the place where he was born. He spends every free moment across the border in Juárez—perfecting his Spanish, hanging with a collective of young activists, and studying lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) for his graduate work in sociology. Meanwhile Elana, busy fighting her own demons, feels disillusioned by academia and has stopped going to class. And though they are best friends, Elana has no idea that Alex has fallen in love with Mateo, a lucha libre fighter.

When Alex goes missing and Elana can’t determine whether he left of his own accord or was kidnapped, it’s clear that neither of them has been honest about who they are. Spanning their journey from Virginia to Texas to Mexico, Mesha Maren’s thrilling follow-up to Sugar Run takes us from missionaries to wrestling matches to a luxurious cartel compound, and deep into the psychic choices that shape our identities. A sweeping novel that tells us as much about our perceptions of the United States and Mexico as it does about our own natures and desires, Perpetual West is a fiercely intelligent and engaging look at the false divide between high and low culture, and a suspenseful story of how harrowing events can bring our true selves to the surface.
Perpetual West is an ambitious novel rendered in striking, sensual prose. Maren creates a vivid, precise, and complex sense of place; she shows us how cultural and physical geography shape who we...

Advance Praise

Praise for Mesha Maren's previous novel, Sugar Run:

“Sugar Run is a shining debut, with a heady admixture of explosive plot and taut, burnished prose. This is a book that loves its wounded characters and troubled places, and in so deeply loving, it finds a terrible truth and beauty where other writers wouldn't have found the courage to look. I'm glad to be among the first to sing the praise of this young writer when I say that Mesha Maren writes like a force of nature.”

—Lauren Groff, author of Florida and Fates and Furies
 

“The literary lineages here are hard-boiled fiction and film noir, but on every page of her debut novel, Mesha Maren creates bold new takes on those venerable genres, a much needed refresh of worn tropes and clichés. Maren is masterly at describing America’s modern wastelands, the blasted towns not yet and maybe never-to-be the beneficiaries of rehabilitation and reoccupation. You can almost see Maren—like Raymond Chandler—cutting each typed page into three strips and requiring each strip to contain something delightful (startling simile, clever dialogue, brilliant description) offered to the reader as a recompense for a world that presses up against you all raw and aggressive and dangerous. A language that fully owns its power to capture just that “heart-wild magic.”

—Charles Frazier, The New York Times Book Review

 

“A darkly steamy first novel…ravishingly rugged…a literary page-turner, hair-raising in both plot and prose. Maren writes with windswept grace and stark sensuality…”

—O, The Oprah Magazine

 

“We love Mesha Maren’s Sugar Run, a gritty noir novel like you’ve never read before.”

—Entertainment Weekly

 

“A tense, atmospheric Southern noir spiked with queer themes, Sugar Run weaves between two timelines in its depiction of Jodi, a woman just finishing an 18-year prison sentence.”

—Entertainment Weekly (“The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2019”​)

 

“Sugar Run throttles… The clip is fast and exciting.”

—Wall Street Journal

 

“The effect … is like hearing birdcall in the wake of a gruesome shootout, or finding a swallowed heist diamond glinting in the sawed-open guts of a cadaver. It comes so unexpected — a weird, tender gift. We barely recognize it for the mercy it grants us. Heartbreaking. Sugar Run’s flashes of pastoral beauty amid so much violence and ruin translate at the end of the novel into a kind of grace… Profound.”

—Los Angeles Review of Books


“The complicated queer love story you need . . . through exquisite prose and beautifully nuanced storytelling, Maren offers a complicated examination of love, identity, the passage of time, and the way small decisions can propel a life forward . . . undeniably tender.”

—Bustle.com 


“In her darkly crackling debut novel, Mesha Maren takes readers for a wild ride, the kind that feels like you’re hurtling down a backwoods road at night, not quite sure if you’re ever going to be able to stop, wondering if you might even suddenly take flight. Maren’s story jumps back-and-forth in time, following the lives of two women, both aching with their need for love and freedom. Maren details the struggles and triumphs of these women with unflinching precision and language as beautiful and ferocious as a summer storm.”

—Nylon.com (“50 Books You’ll Want to Read in 2019”​) 


“In Mesha Maren's impressive debut, Jodi McCarty is released from prison after an 18-year sentence and is determined not to repeat past mistakes. While wandering around the South, she meets a young woman named Miranda, who has just left an abusive relationship. Together, they go looking for someone from Jodi's past and head to West Virginia—followed by the demons that haunt them both. This slow-burning novel asks if we can ever really escape the past and start over.”

—RealSimple.com

 

“Intriguing…lyrical… Maren adroitly incorporates issues surrounding poverty in rural America into her narrative, including drug dealing and addiction; lack of jobs; fracking, which destroys communities and the land’s ecological health; and gun violence, which can change everything in a moment. Maren’s story is engaging and full of damaged and provocative characters who, like all of us, can be misled by our hearts.”

—Minneapolis Star-Tribune

 

“Mesha Maren’s atmospheric Southern noir was the first book I fell in love with this year.”

—Electric Literature

 

“Character-driven…Sugar Run gains its strength from Maren’s uncompromising storytelling and her insistence on showing even the most painful realities...Seamless.”

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

 

“The effect … is like hearing birdcall in the wake of a gruesome shootout, or finding a swallowed heist diamond glinting in the sawed-open guts of a cadaver. It comes so unexpected — a weird, tender gift. We barely recognize it for the mercy it grants us. Heartbreaking. Sugar Run’s flashes of pastoral beauty amid so much violence and ruin translate at the end of the novel into a kind of grace… Profound.”

—LA Review of Books

 

“This grim tale of West Virginia should be depressing reading. But it is so beautifully written, in an often lyrical prose that can conjure up mountains effortlessly…that you feel as if you’ve entered an entirely new realm, however marginalized and doomed…This is a splendid, rich, perceptive novel on all fronts. It will stun, shock, delight and linger with you long after it’s over.”

—Providence Journal

 

“The interlocked and heartbreaking stories of Jodi and Miranda and Lee and Paula and Paula’s simple, badly used brother unfold in language that is just plain grittily gorgeous. These are stories of violence and passion and squashed hope…and you will feel every word. A highly recommended debut.

—Library Journal (starred review)

 

“Remarkable . . . An accomplished short story writer, Maren makes her debut count with emotionally charged prose and a sense of the yearning we all have for home.”

—BookPage

 

“There’s an awful lot of talk about the underrepresentation of rural (or suburban, or urban) working class life in the higher echelons of American literary culture. And while to some extent that might be true, the stories are there, as are the writers, we just need to pay attention. To wit, Mesha Maren’s debut novel, about a young woman’s return to rural West Virginia after 18 years in prison, deserves your attention.”

—Lit Hub

 

“In Maren's darkly engrossing debut novel, two women yearning for freedom fall in love, but the secrets of the past and betrayals in the present threaten to crush them. [She] skillfully handles a dual plot, alternating chapters set in the near-present and 20 years before. The novel's noir tone and taut suspense are enriched by Maren's often lovely prose, especially in descriptions of the natural world, and sharp observations… This impressive first novel combines beautifully crafted language and a steamy Southern noir plot to fine effect.”

—Kirkus Reviews

 

“In her debut, Sugar Run, novelist Mesha Maren plumbs the human dimensions of the economic and opioid addiction crises of rural West Virginia. And she does so with the kind of attentiveness and sensitivity that invites favorable comparison with the work of writers like Chris Offutt and Tony Earley.”

—Shelf Awareness (starred review)

 

"Sugar Run, the strong and insightful first novel from Mesha Maren, puts stories to lives that are ordinarily overlooked, exploring damaged souls and damaged land, the need for that redemptive sense of connection to places and people. Maren writes prose that moves us ever deeper into her world without strain, but with sureness and vivid details. Drugs and flaring tempers, old wounds, and people who feel without hope but still dream of hope." 

—Daniel Woodrell, author of Winter’s Bone

Praise for Mesha Maren's previous novel, Sugar Run:

“Sugar Run is a shining debut, with a heady admixture of explosive plot and taut, burnished prose. This is a book that loves its wounded characters...


Marketing Plan

12-city author tour: Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro, Atlanta, Nashville, Richmond, DC, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Miami

Appearances at literary festivals

Virtual appearances upon request

National media campaign, including TV, radio, and podcast interviews

National print and online campaign, including reviews, features, and original essays

Extensive blog/bookstagrammer tour

Prepublication industry buzz campaign, including widespread bookseller galley mailings, author appearances at fall regional trade shows, and industry advertising

Included in the Fall 2021/Winter 2022 Buzz Books sampler, sponsored by Publishers Marketplace

Comprehensive Indie Next campaign

Dedicated bookstagrammer and influencer galley mailing

National consumer advertising campaign at publication targeting top literary sites

Partnerships and outreach to Mexican American organizations and cultural centers

Book club advertising and designed book club kit at publication, including discussion questions, author essay, and more

Facebook and Instagram advertising

Social media campaign, including author videos, giveaways, and digital graphics

12-city author tour: Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro, Atlanta, Nashville, Richmond, DC, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Miami

Appearances at literary festivals

Virtual appearances upon request

...


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ISBN 9781643750941
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