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The Golden State

In Lydia Kiesling’s razor-sharp debut novel, The Golden State, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Buckling under the weight of being a single parent—her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States due to a ‘processing error’—Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hope that the quiet will bring clarity.

Keenly observed and bristling with humour, The Golden State is about class and cultural breakdowns, and desperate attempts to bridge old and new worlds. But more than anything, it is about motherhood: its voracious worry, frequent tedium and enthralling, wondrous love.


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Lydia Kiesling
About the Author

Lydia Kiesling is the editor of The Millions. Her debut novel, The Golden State, was longlisted for the Centre for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. Her essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, Slateand the New Yorker online. Kiesling lives in San Francisco with her family.

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Text publication date:
2 July 2019
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Praise for Lydia Kiesling
andThe Golden State

‘In heartrending prose, Lydia Kiesling weaves through an exploration of the political and the private, fear and love, survival and obligation, loneliness and longing.’

‘Intimate, culturally perceptive…Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty.’

The Golden State anchors Daphne’s journey in the visceral and material realities of motherhood…the result is less an untroubled analogy between the landscapes of motherhood and the American West than an invitation to think more deeply about how limited our canonical literary imaginings of each have been.’

‘The depictions are remarkably faithful, like a trompe l’oeil painting of a single parent’s mental state.’

‘Kiesling is a talented author…with a unique voice. She’s very smart, very funny, and wonderfully empathetic…[A] skilled and promising writer.’

‘An astute cultural commentator, shedding light on our current political divide, Kiesling writes with breathtaking precision and honesty about motherhood.’

‘A lucid, lyrical look at the often alienating, disorienting experience of early motherhood…More than that, though, Kiesling beautifully explores not just the changed identity that comes with motherhood, but that which comes with partnership, aging, and the sudden realization that the parts of your identity you once thought were most immutable, are actually as ephemeral as that precious, fleeting golden hour of the day.’

‘This tender, lush book—centred on a new single mom who ditches city life for the Northern California desert—profoundly depicts young motherhood and its challenges as I haven’t quite read before.’

Other editions ofThe Golden State