The Outside Lands
International Dylan Thomas Prize
'Astonishing - jagged, fresh and startlingly alive' Daily Mail
Jeannie is nineteen when the world changes, Kip only fourteen. The sudden accident that robs them of their mother leaves them adrift, with only their father to guide them. Jeannie seeks escape in work and later marriage to a man whose social connections propel her into an unfamiliar world of wealth and politics. Ill-equipped and unprepared, Jeannie finds comfort where she can. Meanwhile Kip's descent into a life of petty crime is halted only when he volunteers for the Marines.
By 1968, the conflict in Vietnam is at its height, and with the anti-war movement raging at home, Jeannie and Kip are swept along by events larger than themselves, driven by disillusionment to commit unforgiveable acts of betrayal that will leave permanent scars.
The Outside Lands is the story of people caught in the slipstream of history, how we struggle in the face of loss to build our world, and how easily and with sudden violence it can be swept away. With extraordinary skill and accuracy, Hannah Kohler takes us from 1960s California to Vietnam, capturing what it means to live through historic times. This powerful debut novel announces Kohler as a remarkable new literary talent.
In the media
Hannah Kohler isn't the first author to explore the cost of war, but she does so with remarkable emotional intelligence in this compelling account . . . This is a gripping book about war.
Dark, beautifully written and insightful, this is an impressive debut.
Kohler is particularly good at capturing both her protagonists' individual voices as they change and grow over time and the impact of historical events on small-town lives. She also has a quite wonderful understanding of the way Vietnam radically overturned America's assured sense of itself, while her prose is astonishing - jagged, fresh and startlingly alive.
Kohler’s debut – confident and flawlessly researched – comes to represent the detrimental effect of the war on an entire generation.