Nahoonkara, Peter Grandbois

About the Author

Peter Grandbois is the author of The Gravedigger (Chronicle Books, 2006), a Borders “Original Voices” and Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and The Arsenic Lobster: A Hybrid Memoir (Spuyten Duyvil, 2009), as well as Etruscan’s Nahoonkara (2010).

His essays and short fiction have appeared in numerous magazines and recently received an honorable mention for the 2007 Pushcart Prize. In addition, his translation of San Juan: Memoir of a City (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007) was recently nominated for a PEN Translation award. He has served as a professor of creative writing and contemporary literature at California State University and is currently assistant professor at Denison University in Ohio.

Learn how to interact with Peter on his author page.

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Set simultaneously in the farm country of Wisconsin and a small mining town in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado during the nineteenth century, the new novel by Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” and Border’s “Original Voices” author Peter Grandbois follows the lives of three brothers as each strives to re-create himself despite the forces that work to determine his identity.  Though told from the point-of-view of many characters, the novel revolves around Killian, the oldest of the three, as he attempts to recapture a childhood as ephemeral as a dream.  While Killian’s brother Henry strives to make the town prosperous and his brother Eli prays to maintain the town’s spiritual center, it becomes clear as the novel progresses that the center will not hold.  Violence, lust, and greed tear at the fabric of the town until the only possibility for healing arrives in the form of a snowfall that lasts for three months, burying the town.  It is here events take a surreal turn as individual identity collapses.

Killian is the first to emerge, but what world does he emerge into?  As the novel concludes, the reader understands that the story of one’s identity cannot end.  It doesn’t matter what parts were “real” and what parts imagined.  All that matters is that you do imagine—that you dream and tell the tale.  Nahoonkara, an Ute Indian word that means, “land of the rising blue,” offers a place outside our preconceived notions of reality and identity, a place where we are free to re-imagine ourselves.

Publication date: February 2011

“The amazing and masterful thing [in Nahoonkara] is the way that Grandbois ties this very personal, family story to the larger narrative of American expansion; it’s not overt, but we see clearly how individual pain leads to national empire.” — Kel Munger, Colorado Springs Independent Newspaper