News of the World
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National Book Award Finalist—Fiction
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
News of the World
Absolutely beautiful writing. A gripping story, told so beautifully, I wanted to read it again as soon as I finished it.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
You are transported back in time with the characters. Romantic, poetic, and elegant despite the shortage of punctuation, this book conjures and evokes the experience of their journey.
Fascinating time and place
“Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we just have one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says, it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand thorough a life, all the way, and at the end handed over,sealed”
Why have I let this book languish on the shelf since 2016 I will never know. What a marvelous little story! It focuses on the story of Johanna Leonberger, captured by the Kiowa as spoils of a raid on her family, and held captive for over four years until she was rescued by soldiers and then passed to others in hopes of returning her to her relatives.
It is also the story of Captain Jefferson Kidd, his ability to share the news of the world as men did in those days, and being asked to take the ten year old to her uncle and aunt. Along the way they see the loner caring for the girl and vice versa as the world “recovers” from the Civil War.
How are they treated, both separately and together? How do they see the world with and without each other? In just over 200 pages the reader is literally transported to right where this is happening in time and place, a good hallmark of well done historical fiction. Highly recommended.5/5