Ottie Lee and Calla have two very different stories, yet they are both traveling on the darkest summer day in Indiana, 1930. Neither woman experiences a direct route on that day of the public lynching of young black men. White Ottie Lee is moving toward the carnival atmosphere of the lynching, and black Calla is trying to get far away from it. With rich dialogue and beautifully drawn characters, their stories paint the land with sentiments of people who are somehow surviving the Jim Crow mentality.
— From Jane
"A strange, dazzling novel, as audacious as it is lyrical, The Evening Road hauls up insight, sorrow, and even--somehow--wit from the well of American history." - Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room and The Wonder
"Illuminates its time better than any staid sepia period piece ever could." -- New York
Two women, two secrets: one desperate and extraordinary day.
In the high heat of an Indiana summer, news spreads fast. When Marvel, the local county seat, plans to lynch three young black men, word travels faster. It is August, 1930, the height of the Jim Crow era, and the prospect of the spectacle sends shockwaves rumbling through farm country as far as a day's wagon-ride away.
Ottie Lee Henshaw, a fiery small-town beauty, sets out with her lecherous boss and brooding husband to join in whatever fun there is to be had. At the opposite end of the road to Marvel, Calla Destry, a young African-American woman determined to escape the violence, leaves home to find the lover who has promised her a new life.
As the countryside explodes in frenzied revelry, the road is no place for either. It is populated by wild-eyed demagogues, marauding vigilantes, possessed bloodhounds, and even by the Ku Klux Klan itself. Reminiscent of the works of Louise Erdrich, Edward P. Jones, and Marilynne Robinson, The Evening Road is the story of two remarkable woman on the move through an America riven by fear and hatred, and eager to flee the secrets they have left behind.
"The three loosely related novels Laird Hunt has published since 2012-Kind One
, and The Evening Road
-are perhaps my favorite body of work by an American author. The Evening Road
is difficult subject matter-its story revolves around a historical lynching in Indiana-but its two women narrators are both intensely memorable characters, and through them Hunt deftly explores both the present evils and the possible grace of humanity.—Matt Bell
, New York
"A strange, dazzling novel, as audacious as it is lyrical, The Evening Road
hauls up insight, sorrow, and even-somehow-wit from the well of American history."—Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room and The Wonder
"The Evening Road is a vivid, disturbing book, able to subvert itself in half a line, constantly challenging the reader's expectations. Its ghost map is quickly established in the reader's head, and as the characters fade into the margin of the final page, it is as if an inner landscape has altered. It is mature, accomplished, impressive."
—Hilary Mantel, bestselling author of Wolf Hall
"Hunt's new book raises his own high bar further with an almost fablelike view of prejudice and cruelty some 60 years after emancipation... Hunt finds history or the big events useful framing devices, but he is more interested in how words can do justice to single players and life's fraught moments. Hunt brings to mind Flannery O'Connor's grotesques and Barry Hannah's bracingly inventive prose and cranks. He is strange, challenging, and a joy to read."—Kirkus (starred review)
"[The Evening Road
] illuminates its time better than any staid sepia period piece ever could."—Vulture
"[Hunt's] books share a richness of language and a vividness of imagery that can seriously blow the mind."—Bookpage
"The Evening Road
is a sad and raucous story, ugly and beautiful at once, evocatively starring two very different women."—Shelf Awareness
"Wow! Beautifully crafted, seductive, evocative language and a story that punches you in the gut and lays you low and yet leaves you wanting more. It's rich, deep, dark, harrowing stuff and it does what all great fiction does-it lays ahold of the heart and won't let go. You'll think about this book for weeks, if not years, to come."—Daniel James Brown, bestselling author of The Boys in The Boat
"Not since Miss Jane Pittman have I encountered such strong and admirable characters as Laird Hunt's Ottie Lee Henshaw and Calla Destry. In The Evening Road
, Hunt shows us how love and kindness can and ultimately will prevail over misogyny and racial injustice. This dramatic story of one horrific day in Middle America a century ago is as relevant to our own era as the intolerance, latent and otherwise, that still characterizes all levels of our society. The Evening Road
is both a major literary achievement and a timely and inspiring story in these troubles, latter days."—Howard Frank Mosher, author of A Stranger In The Kingdom
"The book is at once disturbing, highly imaginative and evocative, a tale that is likely to occupy your thoughts well after you close the cover."—The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Laird Hunt is one of our great literary stylists."—WYSO's Book Nook