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West is an exquisite first novel set on the American frontier.
Addled by grief after the death of his wife, and prompted by reports of colossal animal bones found in Kentucky, John Cyrus Bellman sets off on his quest, leaving behind his only daughter, Bess, to be cared for by her aunt.
While Bellman ventures farther into the wilderness, forging an uneasy fellowship with his guide, a Native American boy, Bess traces her father’s path on maps at the local library and keeps out of the way of their peculiar neighbour Elmer Jackson.
Bold and lyrical, West is a brief epic, a micro masterpiece about love, reckless determination and yearning for the unknown.
Kirkus (STARRED Review)
‘Carys Davies deserves every accolade she has received.’
‘Davies’ slim, complex, and achingly beautiful first novel is a sculpture of daring shifts and provocative symmetries welded together by lyrical, fast-paced prose…A masterful first novel—the sort of book that warms even as it devastates, that forces serious reflection and yet charms.’
‘West has all the stark power and immediacy of a folk-tale or a legend. It is also structured with great artistry, a beguiling sense of form and pace, and a depth in the way the characters are created, making clear that Carys Davies is a writer of immense talent.’
‘Menace and mordant wit are the blood that runs through these veins, but there’s a pulse of wonder in Carys Davies’ West. She sees the world and its inhabitants both as we hope they are and as we fear that they might be. An audacious and enigmatic debut of thrilling dimensions, and a reminder of fiction’s possibilities.‘
‘A story of determination, betrayal, folly, and reckless hope written in the grand tradition of the pioneers. You enter the familiar American frontier and shortly are convinced, with Davies’ hero, that the mammoths of the Pleistocene still shyly roam the Plains. The seams between imagination and history in this extraordinary story are invisible. I believed every word.‘
‘West is a journey and a wonder. A man leaves what he loves and goes west in search of the amazing. A story concerned with value and language, love and absence, life and death. A debut of real distinction.’
‘To read Carys Davies’ West is to encounter a myth, or a potent dream—a narrative at once new and timeless. Exquisite, continent, utterly vivid, this short novel will live on in your imagination long after you read the last page.’
‘West proves what in-the-know lovers of her short stories have already been trumpeting: Carys Davies is a deft, audacious visionary, a master of the form. In West, she breaks open our fascination with fated journeys and the irrepressible draw of the unknown, imbuing the American landscape with her own rare magic, twisting the heart as few others can, brilliantly navigating the tension between narrative minimalism and imaginative opulence.’
‘West’s strength lies in belief, and wonder, and the simple pure clarity of that in an incomprehensible world.’