by Téa Obreht

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The bestselling author of The Tiger’s Wife returns with “a bracingly epic and imaginatively mythic journey across the American West” (Entertainment Weekly).

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time The Washington Post Entertainment Weekly • Esquire Real Simple • Good Housekeeping Town & Country • The New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews Library Journal BookPage

In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives unfold. Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life—her husband, who has gone in search of water for the parched household, and her elder sons, who have vanished after an explosive argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home.

Meanwhile, Lurie is a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts. He sees lost souls who want something from him, and he finds reprieve from their longing in an unexpected relationship that inspires a momentous expedition across the West. The way in which Lurie’s death-defying trek at last intersects with Nora’s plight is the surprise and suspense of this brilliant novel.

Mythical, lyrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland is grounded in true but little-known history. It showcases all of Téa Obreht’s talents as a writer, as she subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West, making them entirely—and unforgettably—her own.

Praise for Inland

“As it should be, the landscape of the West itself is a character, thrillingly rendered throughout. . . . Here, Obreht’s simple but rich prose captures and luxuriates in the West’s beauty and sudden menace. Remarkable in a novel with such a sprawling cast, Obreht also has a poetic touch for writing intricate and precise character descriptions.”The New York Times Book Review (Editors Choice)

“Beautifully wrought.”Vanity Fair

“Obreht is the kind of writer who can forever change the way you think about a thing, just through her powers of description. . . . Inland is an ambitious and beautiful work about many things: immigration, the afterlife, responsibility, guilt, marriage, parenthood, revenge, all the roads and waterways that led to America. Miraculously, it’s also a page-turner and a mystery, as well as a love letter to a camel, and, like a camel, improbable and splendid, something to happily puzzle over at first and take your breath away at the end.”—Elizabeth McCracken, O: The Oprah Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984890900
Publisher: Diversified Publishing
Publication date: 08/20/2019
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 258,476
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Téa Obreht’s debut novel, The Tiger's Wife, won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and was an international bestseller. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, and Zoetrope: All-Story, among many others. Originally from the former Yugoslavia, she now lives in New York with her husband and teaches at Hunter College.

Read an Excerpt

The Missouri

When those men rode down to the fording place last night, I thought us done for. Even you must realize how close they came: their smell, the song of their bridles, the whites of their horses’ eyes. True to form—blind though you are, and with that shot still irretrievable in your thigh—you made to stand and meet them. Perhaps I should have let you. It might have averted what happened tonight, and the girl would be unharmed. But how could I have known? I was unready, disbelieving of our fate, and in the end could only watch them cross and ride up the wash away from us in the moonlight. And wasn’t I right to wait—for habit if nothing else? I knew you had flight in you yet. You still do; as do I, as I have all my life—since long before we fell in together, when I first came round to myself, six years old and already on the run, wave-rocked, with my father in the bunk beside me and all around the hiss of water against the hull. It was my father running back then, though from what I never knew. He was thin, I think. Young, perhaps. A blacksmith perhaps, or some other hard-laboring man who never caught more rest than he did that swaying month when night and day went undiffered, and there was nothing but the creak of rope and pulley somewhere above us in the dark. He called me sìne, and some other name I’ve struggled lifelong to recall. Of our crossing I remember mostly foam veins and the smell of salt. And the dead, of course, outlaid in their white shrouds side by side along the stern.

We found lodging near the harbor. Our room overlooked laundry lines that crosshatched from window to window until they vanished in the steam of the washhouse below. We shared a mattress and turned our backs to the madman across the room and pretended he wasn’t a bit further gone each day than the last. There was always somebody shrieking in the halls. Somebody caught between worlds. I lay on my side and held the lapel of my father’s coat and felt the lice roving through my hair.

I never met a man so deep-sleeping as my father. Dockwork will do that, I reckon. Every day would find him straining under some crate or hump of rope that made him look an ant. Afterwards, he’d take my hand and let the river of disembarking bodies carry us away from the quays, up the thoroughfare to where the steel scaffolds were rising. They were a marvel to him, curious as he was about the world’s workings. He had a long memory, a constant toothache, and an abiding hatred of Turks that tended to flare up when he took tea with likeminded men. But a funny thing would happen if ever some Serb or Magyar started in about the iron fist of Stambul: my father, so fixed in his enmity, would grow suddenly tearful. Well, efendi, he’d say. Are you better off now? Better off here? Ali-Pasha Rizvanbegović was a tyrant—but far from the worst! At least our land was beautiful. At least our homes were our own. Then would follow wistful reminiscences of his boyhood village: a tumble of stone houses split by a river so green he had no word for it in his new tongue, and had to say it in the old one, thus trapping it forever as a secret between the two of us. What I’d give to remember that word. I could not think why he would leave such a town for this reeking harbor, which turned out to be the kind of place where praying palms-up and a name like Hadziosman Djurić got him mistaken for a Turk so often he disowned both. I believe he called himself Hodgeman Drury for a while—but he was buried “Hodge Lurie” thanks to our landlady’s best guess at the crowded consonants of his name when the hearse came to take his body away.

Our mattress, I remember, was stained. I stood on the stairs to watch the Coachman load my father into his wagon. When they drove off the Landlady put her hand on my head and let me linger. The evening downpour had withdrawn, so a sunset reddened the street. The horses looked ablaze. After that, my father never came to me again, not in the waters, not even in dreams.

That Landlady prayed night after night before a cross on the wall. Her mercy got me hard bread and a harder mattress. In return, I took to praying with my palms together and helped tend her lodgings. Ran up and down stairs with buckets of soapwater, hunted rats, wedged myself up chimneys. Staring men who sat in the shadows sometimes lunged for me. I was a skin-and-bones kid, but unafraid enough of stairwell drunks to kick them while they slept, so they learned to leave me alone. Another summer, another plague, another visit from the Coachman and his black horses. Another and another. A mess of script appeared on our curbpost. Can you read that? the Landlady asked me. It says “pesthouse”—do you know what “pesthouse” means? It turned out to mean empty rooms, empty purse, empty bellies for us both. When the Coachman next came around, she sent me away with him. Just stood there, staring down at the coin he put in her hand.

I bunked in the Coachman’s stable for a year. He was the cleanest man I ever knew. Couldn’t get to sleep without his house just so and his slippers side by side under the bed. The only unevenness to him was an upper tooth that had come in a tusk, giving him the look of a fancy rat. Together we went round the dens and fleahouses on Bleecker Street to collect the dead: lodgers who’d passed in their sleep, or had their throats cut by bunkmates. Sometimes they were still in their beds with the sheets drawn over them when we arrived. But just as often we’d find them folded into trunks or stuffed under floorboards. Those with cash and kin we took to the undertaker. The nameless we drove to uptown hospitals and delivered through back doors so they could be tabled before wakes of looming young men. Their innards laid out. Their bones boiled white.

When trade was slow, we’d have to pull them from churchyards. Two dollars to the gatekeep to look the other way while we walked among the crosses searching out newly turned mounds. The Coachman would start a tunnel where he guessed the head might be, and I would wedge down, shoulders and arms, all the way into the cold earth and stab forward with my iron until I broke the coffinboards. Then I’d feel about with my fingers till I found hair or teeth, and ease a noose over the head. It took both of us to pull them out.

“Still easier than digging them up,” was the Coachman’s reasoning.

Sometimes the mound fell in on itself, and sometimes the body caught and we had to leave it there half-dug; and sometimes they were women and sometimes kids, too, and the graveyard earth couldn’t be got out of my clothing no matter how hot the washhouse kettle.

Once, we found two people sharing a coffin, face-to-face, as though they’d fallen asleep in it together. Once, I put my hand in and felt only the give of earth and the damp velvet of the pillow. “Someone’s beat us here,” I said. “It’s empty.”

Once, I broke through the boards and moved my fingers over coarse hair and skin and was just getting the rope past a reef of jawbone when fingers grabbed my wrist somewhere in the dark. They were dry fingers, hard-tipped. I started and dirt flew down my throat and into me. I kept kicking, but the fingers held on till I thought I’d disappear down that hole. “Please, I can’t do it again,” I sobbed afterwards—but I could, it turned out, with a broken wrist, and a twisted shoulder, too.

Once, a great big fella got stuck halfway out his coffin. I sat there in the dirt with his pale arm on my knees until the Coachman handed me a saw. I carried that arm all the way uptown, wrapped in its own burlap sleeve, on my shoulder like a ham. Some evenings later, I saw that same rent sleeve on a one-armed giant who stood unmoving in the fishmarket crowd. He was pale and round and stood smiling shyly at me, as though we were old friends. He drifted closer, hugging that empty sleeve, till he stood at my side. It seems an odd thing to say, but a thin tickle spread around me, and I knew he’d put his ghost arm about my shoulders. That was the first I ever got this strange feeling at the edges of myself—this want. He let forth a rueful sigh. As if we’d been talking all the while. “God,” he said. “God I’ve an awful hunger. I’d love a nice cod pie. Wouldn’t you, little boss?”

“F*** you,” said I, and fled.

Customer Reviews

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Inland: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW! I'm a fan of westerns but this is the first I've read told from a woman's perspective. It will stir up feelings like only an great book can. Tea Obreht has given us a world and it's characters that are so real you can see them in your mind. As the family struggles and circumstances build, you will try to guess where the story is going. You will be surprised. A very emotional story that reminds me of Cherokee America.
CRSK More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars It’s been around eight years since I read Téa Obreht’s debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, but the fact that I loved the beautiful writing and the story had been enough incentive for me to request this second novel, Inland. I’m so glad that I did. This story has a duel narrative, which kept me on my toes, and wanders over time, over centuries, and around the world in one of the narratives. Over the course of a day in another narrative, traveling through time using memories revisited, times and places, loves and losses over a lifetime. Through all of this, Obreht weaves this story of the early days of the Arizona Territory, 1893, with an enchanting sprinkling of magical realism, as well as a spiritual connection – both of these two narrators have conversations with, and connections to the dead. This isn’t a carefree, cheerful read, yet it doesn’t dwell in the harshness of these lives. There is much pondering and wonderment of their surroundings, as bleak as they are, and through these we learn their stories. Obreht manages to skillfully weave into this story the historical experimentation of the United States Camel Corps. using camels as pack animals in the Southwest during the mid-19th-century development of the country. The US Army eventually decided to abandon this project, despite the camels’ stamina. This added another layer to the story, but what I loved most about this was the vivid portrayal of the era, the landscape, and the memories of these two people, their stories, as well as their conversations with those who haunt their days and nights. If there were brief moments while reading this where it felt as though I had wandered in the desert too long, the breathtaking ending is one that will remain etched in my mind. Many thanks for the ARC provided by to Random House Publishing Group – Random House
MKF More than 1 year ago
This is an unusual and at time challenging read. Set primarily in 1893 Arizona, it's told from the perspectives of Nora, a woman coping with incredible challenges, and Lurie, a criminal who is transporting a camel named Burke for the US Army. Nora's family ran out of water and her husband has gone to look for it, leaving her to care for her children and gramma- all of whom have physical or emotional issues. To cope, she talks to her daughter Evelyn, who is dead. Lurie has a wider range of ghosts to talk with and about- orphaned at 6, he made his way into adulthood with both petty and bigger crimes. Obrecht has written a tale where these characters intersect- and it's believable. It is not a straight line narrative and there are times when it didn't entirely make sense, at least to me. That's ok because the writing is amazing. I was not familiar with the camel corps - so it was a bonus to learn about it as well as about the hardships of living in Arizona during a drought. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. This is quite different from the Tiger's Wife and it's excellent.
Anonymous 12 months ago
This book took awhile to get into. Many rough and tumble characters, but the descriptive writing of the western lands was beautiful. I especially liked the camel storyline.
CSGreedyReader 12 months ago
This mysterious and captivating novel weaves two story strands together into an unexpected and gratifying end. I'm pretty sure it's not like anything else you've read, which is a treat in itself. One storyline revolves around Nora, living on a sun blasted ranch during the 1892 Arizona drought. Her husband has left to buy water from the waterman in town, and her older sons have gone into town to publish their newspaper. None have returned. She's at home with her youngest son, who has had what seems to be a whale of a concussion, and their servant, a young woman who says she can occasionally speak to the dead. And her stroke-impaired, wheelchair-bound mother who mysteriously manages to move her chair to prime spots in the house. Story two involves Lurie Mattie, which is not his real name, brought to the US as a child, lived as a street kid, and who relates his story to Burke, his camel. Lurie has two dead friends who follow him because he has absorbed their want. Where he encountered his camel you will have to read "Inland" to find out. Anyone who follows my reviews knows how off stories with supernatural elements, and that's because they are usually stupid. Tea Obrecht taps into the spirit of people of that time and place to create beliefs that fit. The west was haunted, and the people who came there brought their own ghosts to cohabit with the new ones they encountered. Obrecht is a beautiful writer who captures the frying southwest and how people survive in areas where people were not really meant to live. Only Burke the camel is in the right place. What a wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
76 pages in and still not captivated.So far, none of the characters are likable. Not sure I want to keep reading...
Anonymous 8 months ago
Took awhile to get into book. Characters were fascinating
Anonymous 9 months ago
A Barnes & Nobel book club pick. This is one of the few books in my life time of reading that I didnt bother to finish.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Inland is the kind of novel that makes you stop and stare into space, if only to grasp the beauty of Obreht's ability to turn a phrase. People wanting to read something quickly may not appreciate the literary quality of the story's structure, but those who love a symbolic exploration of a deeper truth will find themselves lost in the pages.
J.B.'s Reviews 10 months ago
Thanks Netgalley for the copy. Review is my own, and in an honest one. I think at its core, this is a story about family and how death and other hardships shape its overall dynamic. Throughout this book you'll be drawn into their lives, past and present, until both their worlds meet. It's a story too about family history. Not a lot happens, while at the same time so very much happens. It's plodding, but thrilling. Unique, but familiar. Emotional in every way imaginable. Every character, every moment, is precisely placed. Nothing is superfluous. The writing is tremendous. I keep thinking of this story, as a 'days in the life of'' sort of story. And I think that's the best way to look at it. You're getting a lot of history, with snapshots of the present. It's thrilling, but overall there isn't an overall story arc. It's an experience more than anything.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Very rare that I can't finish a book....kept hoping it would get didn't.
Rgaiovnik 10 months ago
3.5 rounded up. This book is told in two narratives- Lurie, a middle eastern cameleer fugitive who sees spirits as he winds his way through the southwest and Nora, a homesteader in AZ territory raising a family in a drought with some political turmoil mixed in. The first part of the book is a little disjointed. I had a hard time keeping track of characters as it bounced along and I found the first chapters confusing and a bit tedious. The latter 2/3 of the book was absolutely awesome. The story telling and writing was phenomenal and I really admired the way the author wrote in supernatural elements as if it were a natural progression. The history was impeccable and fascinating and the ending is as satisfying as you could want from a story like this.
LyndaZ 10 months ago
Tea Obreht''s writing is fluid as she presents the stories of Lurie, unintentional outlaw turned camel driver delivering water to parched communities of the American desert and Nora a woman in desperate need of water as she awaits the return of the men she loves. This is a well told tale of homesteaders trying to tame the Arizona wilderness, the little known contribution of the United States Camel Corp. and Native Americans trying to understand and adapt to a different and changing country. Obreht deftly intertwines tragedy and a bit of humor to bring the characters together and remind readers just what an extraordinary and often forgotten, history of the wild wild west. Thank you, so much, NetGalley, the author and publisher for allowing me to read and review this e-ARC.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I am glad I did not have to pay for this book. I won it from the previous month's B&N book club. I only read up to page 69 and that was a struggle. I applaud anyone who was able to plow thru to the end. I have enjoyed most the B&N book club selections but this one was just a bad choice.
Anonymous 11 months ago
enjoyed this book and am really glad I read it. It is different and unusual in a good way. Interesting story about a pioneer family with lots of fascinating detail about everyday life. Some appealing characters and surprising story aspects that made it a keeper. I would recommend this book for sure. I learned quite a bit about the period in which it is set also, so that's another good point about it. I was also impressed with the author's ability to write in a style that made the book more authentic. I would like to read other books by this author after reading this one. Thanks B&N for a great book club pick.
alexcan3 12 months ago
This was an absolute snooze. I would have given up after about 100 pages, but I am a member of the B&N bookclub, so I did not want to show up without having read the book. I felt no connection to the characters. I did not care what happened to them. I did like Burke, the camel.
Anonymous 12 months ago
I only bought this book because it was the B&N Book Club book and I wish I could get a refund. I thought it was awful, unengaging, and completely not of interest to me. The story as described on the jacket was nothing like the misery within the pages. After reading the first 75 pages and still feeling completely ick about the book, I read the middle, and then the end and neither was engaging enough to make me want to fill in the blanks. If you want to be depressed, give this book a read.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Everyone sees and communicates with the dead . Very nonsensical and disjointed story lines . However . ...learning about the true use of camels in our country's expansion to the west was very interesting . I did research into the Army's importation of camels after reading Inland. That was both fascinating and interesting . Skip the book and go straight to researching Beale's use of camels in the Army
TinaLynne 12 months ago
Thank you Netgalley and Random House for an ebook in exchange for an honest review. I have mixed emotions about this book!! The quality of the writing was so good, but it felt a bit drawn-out at times. The descriptions of living in Arizona in the late 1800s totally appealed to my senses, and it was easy to imagine what the characters were experiencing. The story switched between two narratives, and I found myself much more engrossed in Nora’s story than that of Lurie. I thought the chapters were a bit long, as I sometimes had a difficult time figuring out where the characters were in time when we switched narratives. The mystical elements experienced by both characters was a very creative, if sometimes creepy, depiction of ghosts. Lurie blames his various misdeeds on the ‘wants’ of the dead people whom he believes have attached themselves to them. Nora is a mother of three busy sons but is kept company by her daughter who died in infancy, yet continues to age in her mother’s mind as if she were still alive. The suffering endured in this book wasn’t glossed over but wasn’t written in an overly graphic way either, which I appreciated. When the two narratives are eventually woven together, it’s done in a way that’s surprising and refreshingly unpredictable. The ending was breathtaking and made the journey worthwhile.
Anonymous 12 months ago
***Spoilers*** Full disclosure, I have never read this author's well-reviewed first novel. This book has two separate story lines, that sort of strangely connect at the very end. The writing is lyrical, but the plot drags and the characters are not well-fleshed out. I struggled to complete the book, as I had little interest throughout the novel. The story lines are odd; one about a murderous immigrant that moves all over the United States and territories via camel and the second about a woman in the middle of nowhere Arizona territory trying to survive and get water, missing her husband (who may or may not be dead) and having an emotional affair with one of the few men in the desolate area. Also, both story lines feature ghosts (which really didn't help the plot). In the end, the main camel ends up running over the top of the woman, her love interest and her niece, injuring all three, with the dead character from the other story line tied (and decomposing) on it's back, and then just stops.
FrancescaFB 12 months ago
smg5775 12 months ago
This is a book of two stories--Nora's and Lurie's. Both stories are interesting as Nora is shown as a farm wife dealing with a drought and a husband and sons that have gone missing. Lurie was an outlaw turned cameleer. Based on the blurb for the book, I expected something totally different. Through the different timelines and stories, I kept wondering when do Nora and Lurie meet. When they finally do, I was disappointed. However the ending was unexpected and kept with the story. After I finished the book I realized how the blurb could have different meanings and it was not wrong. Just not the meaning I first put on it or how I wanted the story to go. But it is a compelling read and keeps you hooked.
VKate More than 1 year ago
I am writing this honest review in exchange for a copy of Inland thanks to The Random House Publishing Group. Inland is a novel that I could see in my mind as I read it. It appealed to multiple senses. I could feel the dust and dryness and Nora's thirst, I could see the landscape and the weathered, weary faces of the characters, I could hear the patronizing voices of the Doctor and Merrion Crace. At times, I got a bit lost in the details and backstories of characters who didn't appear to directly affect the plot. I started to skim over some of those parts thinking I just wanted to read the words that were obviously part of the core of the story. Then it occurred to me that there is more to a novel than just the main plot. There were offshoot stories about multiple character and not every detail related directly to the main plot. I realized that a fantastic writer develops characters as real people. Not every detail of someone's life is essential to the main experience of one's life. However, it is the rich details that make up person. The character development in Inland is was jolted me back into the story when I felt lost in too much information. There are questions that are left unanswered-or at least not definitively answered. The whereabouts of Nora's sons and husband is almost a character in itself. It drives the story and the way Nora deals with life without them. Sometimes that is frustrating to me in a novel, but not in this one. The intersection of the two main characters story lines is so interesting. I enjoyed the historical information that is woven into this novel. I also love a book that includes the haunted spirit world. I highly recommend Inland to anyone who loves a book that includes passages that make them reflect on their own lives, think about how they would handle the situations the characters are in or who enjoy words and how they feel when you say them out loud. I highlighted a passage that read "I began to wish that I could pour our memories into the water we carried, so that anyone drinking might see how it had been." I think that is exactly how I felt after I finished Inland-like I drank the water that showed me how it had been for the characters. The ending of this book is satisfying in a way I've never experienced before. I am fascinated by Ms. Obreht's style of writing and wonder at how authors like her can create the worlds and characters that they do. My review on Goodreads posted 9/4/19.
DragonNimbus More than 1 year ago
Inland is a very unique tale of the American West, spiced with fantastical elements that bring this book over the edge of traditional westerns and into a category of its own. Lurie is an outlaw gone straight. He's haunted by ghosts from his past, all of whom want something from him. Lurie ends up on a quest across America to escape his ghosts and fulfill an unexpected relationship. . Nora is a hardworking, no-nonsense woman trying to eke out a living with her family in the dessicating Arizona Territory. Her husband left days ago to find water in hopes of bringing some relief to his family and their land. Her two oldest sons took off after a serious argument. Only her youngest son remains with Nora, and he is seeing signs of a "great beast" roaming their land. How Lurie's path intersects Nora's is the fantastical twist that brings this book beyond the realm of everyday fiction and into the spectacular.
HollyLovesBooks4Us More than 1 year ago
First of all, I am so glad that i had the chance to read this early and review it. As the sophomore attempt, and much awaited at that, from Obreht, much was expected after the tremendous success of the debut novel. Inland was an interesting story told from two main perspectives, Nora Lark who is a homeowner in an Arizona town during a drought, awaiting her husband's water-seeking return. The alternate story is from the perspective of a pair of camel-riding outlaws. Both perspectives were fascinating and well researched. From a historical perspective, this was a work of art, telling the story from the various POVs that gave a firsthand view of what life would have been like for those who dared to try to live in the western, newly settled regions. The language used in each experience was so vivid and heartfelt that I could feel what the characters were feeling. This character driven story was poignant and compelling. In addition, Obreht adds the element of magical realism into the mix with characters talking to "the other dead" or Josie having these abilities to see and talk to the dead or see things about what was to be in the future. The slow, methodical pacing normally is not my favorite thing in a book but here it worked. It captured the growing thirst in Nora and her family as they waited for the return of her husband with the fresh water. This was a beautiful story and poignant novel that was a fantastic second book from a highly talented author. Highly recommend. #Inland #NetGalley #RandomHousePublishingGroup #RandomHouse