This month sees the release of a new novel by David Vann, whose dark and deeply personal fiction debut, Legend of a Suicide, brought him to international prominence in 2008. Legend of a Suicide was quickly followed by Caribou Island (2011), Dirt (2012) and Goat Mountain (2013)—all beautifully written, heartwrenching stories of people, families and communities tearing themselves apart.
Aquarium has the same focus on the personal. Young Caitlin lives in poverty with her single mother; her visits to the local aquarium each afternoon, as she waits for her mother to finish work, bring her peace and serenity. While Vann continues to plumb the darkest depths of human behaviour, Caitlin’s sweet and strong voice brings a new dimension to his writing.
On his last visit to Australia, David spoke to us briefly about writing Aquarium, his own childhood fascination with fish and the new emotional territory this story has taken him into.
Praise for David Vann
‘One of the most exciting writers at work today.’ Australian
‘[Vann] is the real thing—a mature, risk-taking and fantastically adept fiction writer who dares go to the darkest places, explore their most appalling corners.’ Observer
‘One of the most darkly talented and unsettling writers working today.’ Guardian
‘Vann is a brave writer, daring to write about and depict things that most other authors would baulk at, but that’s what makes him so good—that unflinching eye for the darkness you could potentially find in any of us, given the wrong chain of events.’ Independent
‘A kind of modern fairy tale...Unlike Vann’s other novels, which exist in a closed system of violence and despair, this story offers redemption...Vann’s novels are striking, uncompromising portraits of American life; here is another exceptional example.’ Kirkus Reviews
‘Since electrifying the literary world five years ago with his debut novel, Legend of a Suicide, Vann has racked up an astonishing number of international awards. This lovely, wrenching novel should add to that list.’ Starred review, Library Journal
‘Elegantly written, emotionally intense...Vann crafts a moving exploration of the boundaries we draw around ourselves to stay safe and unchanged.’ Publishers Weekly