Book of the Week: The Tilted World – Tom Franklin

Franklin was admired as a literary writer long before I arrived at Harper over a decade ago. His tough, beautiful, evocative writing was widely admired but didn’t gain a mass audience until 2010’s bestselling Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Helping to break out that book is still one of the most gratifying projects I’ve ever worked on—and I know a lot of booksellers feel the same way.

This new novel is a delightful and unexpected turn. Co-written with his wife, the prize winning poet Beth Ann Fennelly, there’s a masterful alchemy at play. These two very different writers create an entirely successful novel that reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver. I’d don’t mean to imply that it’s an imitation–it’s definitely its own work of art. But the themes  of peril and grace, the sly humor, and the  concern  with average people trying to make their way in the larger stream of history all offer the satisfaction that Kingsolver’s novels do. Add an original take on a devastating flood, a plucky young heroine determined to take hold of her own life and it all adds up to one very satisfying story.

As for the plot, I wrote about this book earlier in the year. You can catch that early reaction here. Now it’s time to give the stage to the reviewers and booksellers. As you might expect, this book will be an Indie Next Pick and the authors will be doing an extensive tour through out the fall.

“Husband-and-wife authors Franklin and Fennelly join forces for a suspenseful, emotionally moving novel about the Great Flood of 1927. . . . The authors superbly depict the bonds of maternal, romantic, and brotherly love, and their slangy dialogue and piquant metaphors enrich their setting. This is a full-bodied shot of bluesy Americana with just the right amounts of grit, heart, and woeful longing, and it goes down smooth and satisfying.”
Booklist (starred review)

’Incandescent’ hardly seems like the right word for a flood-soaked prohibition tale, and yet it rings true. Amid the “you are there” descriptions of characters and locations of the fictional Hobnob, Mississippi, are moments of pure luminescence as beautiful as the long-lost sun appearing through the storm clouds. And yet, as gorgeous as the writing is, this is no mere prose-poem of the lost era of the Great Flood–this is a marvelously-told yarn about flesh and blood characters: the tough, battle-scarred revenuers; the no-nonsense spitfire, the slick bootlegger, and one little orphaned baby that sets everything in motion.”
–Kim Fox, Buyer, Schuler Books & Music, Walker, MI

“[A]n atmospheric draught of prose that is at once poetic and gritty…..[F]ans of Fennelly will savor her depictions of a mother’s ferocious love, and Franklin’s following will shine to the violent rendering of a nearly forgotten time and ethos.”
Publishers Weekly

The Tilted World (9780062069184) by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. $25.99 hardcover. 10/1/13 on sale.

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