The Removed: A Novel (Hardcover)

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“Brandon Hobson has given us a haunted work, full of voices old and new. It is about a family’s reckoning with loss and injustice, and it is about a people trying for the same. The journey of this family’s way home is full—in equal measure—of melancholy and love. The Removed is spirited, droll, and as quietly devastating as rain lifting from earth to sky.”
—Tommy Orange, author of There There

USA Today * O, the Oprah Magazine * Harper's Bazaar * San Francisco Chronicle * Good Housekeeping * Vulture * Refinery29 * AARP * Kirkus * Alma * Woman's Day * Biblio Lifestyle * Publishers Weekly * LitHub 

Steeped in Cherokee myths and history, a novel about a fractured family reckoning with the tragic death of their son long ago—from National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson

In the fifteen years since their teenage son, Ray-Ray, was killed in a police shooting, the Echota family has been suspended in private grief. The mother, Maria, increasingly struggles to manage the onset of Alzheimer’s in her husband, Ernest. Their adult daughter, Sonja, leads a life of solitude, punctuated only by spells of dizzying romantic obsession. And their son, Edgar, fled home long ago, turning to drugs to mute his feelings of alienation.

With the family’s annual bonfire approaching—an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death, and a rare moment in which they openly talk about his memory—Maria attempts to call the family together from their physical and emotional distances once more. But as the bonfire draws near, each of them feels a strange blurring of the boundary between normal life and the spirit world. Maria and Ernest take in a foster child who seems to almost miraculously keep Ernest’s mental fog at bay. Sonja becomes dangerously fixated on a man named Vin, despite—or perhaps because of—his ties to tragedy in her lifetime and lifetimes before. And in the wake of a suicide attempt, Edgar finds himself in the mysterious Darkening Land: a place between the living and the dead, where old atrocities echo.

Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, The Removed seamlessly blends the real and spiritual to excavate the deep reverberations of trauma—a meditation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on both a personal and ancestral level.

About the Author

Brandon Hobson is the author of the novel Where the Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction and winner of the Reading the West Book Award. His other books include Desolation of Avenues Untold and the novella Deep Ellum. His work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology, The Believer, the Paris Review DailyConjunctionsNOON, and McSweeney’s, among other places. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at New Mexico State University and teaches in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.

Praise For…

“Brandon Hobson has given us a haunted work, full of voices old and new. It is about a family’s reckoning with loss and injustice, and it is about a people trying for the same. The journey of this family’s way home is full—in equal measure—of melancholy and love. The Removed is spirited, droll, and as quietly devastating as rain lifting from earth to sky.”
— Tommy Orange, author of There There

"Blurring the boundaries between the tangible and the spiritual, Brandon Hobson’s latest novel draws on Cherokee folklore to offer a moving meditation on family, home, and ancestral trauma."
Harper’s Bazaar

"Stunning.... Hobson uses Cherokee folklore to great effect in this profound, powerful look at the ways in which trauma — both recent and generational — infuses every aspect of our lives, but that it is possible to heal, to recover without ever forgetting what happened and what is still owed in order to reach a place of true understanding."
— Refinery 29

“Splendid…. Hobson, a National Book Award finalist for his novel Where the Dead Sit Talking, weaves strands of the past and present so skillfully that events that would be improbable in the hands of another author are inevitable in The Removed. More than anything, in the case of the beleaguered Echota family, Hobson understands William Faulkner’s adage, ‘The past is never dead. It’s not even past.’”

"If we tell ourselves stories to expand our worldview, then modern literature is one of society’s most powerful tools.... Rich in Cherokee folklore."

San Francisco Chronicle

"You’ll be sucked right in, and you won’t be able to put it down."
— Alma

"Drawing from Cherokee folklore, Hobson mines the lasting effects of trauma and grief, showcasing the quietly divergent paths of each family member—one struggling to manage a husband’s Alzheimers, another filling solitude with romantic fancies, and the other slipping into addiction. Here, we are witnesses to mourning. Here, we sit with the power and strength of personal and ancestral stories."
— Literary Hub

"Hobson’s last novel...was a finalist for the National Book Award, and I’ll eat my pajamas if his new novel — which is also set in Oklahoma and deepens Hobson’s themes of displacement and violence — doesn’t get a nom too."
— Vulture

"Hobson is a master storyteller and illustrates in gently poetic prose how for many Native Americans the line between this world and the next isn’t so sharp. This will stay long in readers’ minds."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Mesmerizing…. Spare, strange, bird-haunted, and mediated by grief, the novel defies its own bleakness as its calls forth a delicate and monumental endurance.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A multilayered, emotionally radiant second novel…. Hobson uses Cherokee tradition and the Echotas’ story to amplify each other, blending past and present in a narrative of blistering loss and final healing. Highly recommended.”
— Library Journal (starred review)

"With elegiac grace, The Removed tells of one family’s struggles to find wholeness after tragedy."

The Removed is a marvel. With a few sly gestures, a humble array of piercingly real characters and an apparently effortless swing into the dire dreamlife, Brandon Hobson delivers an act of regeneration and solace. You won’t forget it.” 
— Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective

“There are many stories in The Removed, a mystical, deep, and compassionate novel that explores how the intimate lives of a family are shaped by powerful ancestral legacies. The traumas of the past, both personal and historical, are forever with us, but—and here is the miraculous heart of this novel—people can still abide, resist, and even recover. Every character in The Removed seems to contain an intricate, particular, fully realized world. A quietly dazzling and haunting achievement.”
— Dana Spiotta, author of Eat the Document

“Astonishing. This moving and affecting novel tells the story of a Native family in crisis, each person dealing with the aftereffects of grief and trauma following the murder of a beloved son. But this is a book of hope and healing, a remarkable tale of resilience in the face of unimaginable pain. Written with lyrical and evocative prose and a deep reverence for Cherokee culture and tradition, The Removed is an important contribution to indigenous fiction and American literature.”
— David Heska Wanbli Weiden, author of Winter Counts

Product Details
ISBN: 9780062997548
ISBN-10: 0062997548
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Pages: 288
Language: English