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Gold Fame Citrus

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781784292867

Price: £16.99

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‘Extraordinary power and beauty’ New York Times ‘Disturbingly real’ BBC ‘A Mad Max world painted with a finer brush’ Elle ‘Laughter in the dark’ FT ‘Dizzying, scorching genius’ Vanity Fair

Desert sands have laid waste to the south-west of America. Las Vegas is buried. California – and anyone still there – is stranded. Any way out is severely restricted. But Luz and Ray are not leaving. They survive on water rations, black market fruit and each other’s need. Luz needs Ray, and Ray must be needed. But then they cross paths with a mysterious child, and the thirst for a better future begins.

It’s said there’s a man on the edge of the Dune Sea. He leads a camp of believers. He can find water. Venturing into this dry heart of darkness, Luz thinks she has found their saviour. For the will to survive taps hidden powers; and the needed, and the needy, will exploit it.

Like Margaret Atwood, Claire Vaye Watkins uses dystopia to traverse the scarred frontier of the heart, exploring the myths we tell about others and ourselves. In her bare and brilliant prose, nature and human nature, conspiracy and cult, motherhood and manhood are played out across the vast, implacable desert.

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An extraordinary novel: relentlessly brilliant, utterly fearless, and often savagely funny. Watkins explores the maze of human thirst in all its forms. Here's a love story that tracks the mutating hopes of two lost souls, in prose that is fever-bright and ferociously assured. More confirmation that Watkins is one of the brightest stars in our firmament
Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia and Vampires in the Lemon Grove
A tour-de-force first novel blisters with drought, myth, and originality . . . Praised for writing landscape, Watkins' grasp of the body is just as rousing . . . Critics will reference Annie Proulx's bite and Joan Didion's hypnotic West, but Watkins is magnificently original
A gripping, audacious novel, plausibly imagined in all its remarkable details. With Claire Vaye Watkins there was never promise: it was achievement from the start, and this book repays her admirers in spades
Thomas McGuane
An unforgettable journey into a hauntingly imagined near-future. With her mind-bending vision, breathtaking storytelling and utterly original voice, Claire Vaye Watkins is one of my favorite writers
Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
Set in an increasingly plausible-seeming future in which drought has transformed Southern California into a howling wasteland, this debut novel by the author of the prize-winning story collection Battleborn finds two refugees of the water wars holed up in a starlet's abandoned mansion in L.A.'s Laurel Canyon. Seeking lusher landscape, the pair head east, risking attack by patrolling authorities, roving desperadoes, and the unrelenting sun
The Millions - most anticipated books of 2015
Exhilarating, upsetting, delirious, bold, Gold Fame Citrus is a head rush of a novel and establishes Claire Vaye Watkins as an important new voice in American literature
Louise Erdrich, author of The Round House
A sun-hammered fever dream, not unlike the shimmering, sweltering southwest it depicts. Your heart will be wrung out by the journey of Luz, Raymond, and Ig. Your imagination will feast on the assured depiction of a near-future that is burnt to a crisp. And you'll hope it's all a mirage as Watkins renders a hot and very plausible future the frightening force of a burning inevitability
Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
The book is packed with persuasive detail, luminous writing, and a grasp of the history (popular, political, natural and imagined) needed to tell a story that is original yet familiar, strange yet all too believable
Publisher's Weekly
American odyssey: Set in a drought-ravaged Southern California trolled by scavengers, Gold Fame Citrus burns with a dizzying, scorching genius
Vanity Fair
Watkins brings a gorgeous sense of language and a native desert-dweller's understanding of California to her audacious and dystopian first novel . . . The drought, the desperation and the fantasy built by the guru all feel disturbingly real
She's sharp, at times merciless, and never above a little fun . . . The book is instantly entrancing, alluring as a mirage, and filled with peril, mystery, sandstorms, the occult, and a cast of nuanced characters
Los Angeles Magazine
Extraordinary power and beauty . . . A great pleasure of the book is Watkins's fearlessness
New York Times
Like the best stories in her 2013 Dylan Thomas Prize-winning collection Battleborn, the narrative focuses on left-behind people and left-behind places - those who exist at the periphery of destructive events . . . Which may make it surprising to say that this book is also funny. It's funny in the way that a Joy Williams or Mary Gaitskill or Flannery O'Connor story is funny. It's laughter in the dark, the comedy of unending struggle . . . The sentences in Gold Fame Citrus are alive in ways the sun-blasted landscape isn't, and therein lies the hope
Jonathan Lee, Financial Times
Watkins's apocalyptic new novel seems a revisionist refit of McCarthy's The Road . . . that (unlike The Road) puts female characters centre-stage in a geographically vivid setting. The style hits you first . . . Formidably wrought
Anthony Cummins, Daily Telegraph
Watkins writes with grace, wit and imagination in her first novel . . . Watkins's writing engrosses because she is mainly concerned with how people behave in extreme circumstances; no matter how strange the background, her characters stay believable
Kate Saunders, The Times
The empty swimming pools and intense light conjure JG Ballard's environmental dystopias as well as Margaret Atwood's . . . Both nail-biting and digressive, at times lushly overwritten, at times wryly incisive, but always powerful . . . Vaye Watkins' portrait of Levi, the leader of the sand dune colony, is a tour de force: chilling, beguiling, paranoid, convincing and pathetic by turns. . . Her novel certainly cuts deep in its vision of overwhelming natural power . . . most of all in her extraordinary creation of the dune sea . . . too vast for human comprehension, yet at the same time a tabula rasa for each fragile individual's desires, it's a classic example of the Romantic sublime, as mesmerising as it is deadly
Justine Jordan, Guardian
A wild book conveying the allure of people improvising, as well as the strange charm of the landscape . . . Vaye Watkins is well versed in the region's seductive myths . . . It is hard not to read the demise of idealogy as well as collapsing ecology as the driving force [ . . .] a contemporary distrust of power, whoever wields it [. . .] even her pleasure in language reflects back a suspicion of rhetoric that seeks to persuade . . . The complexities of emotion and power is probed so intelligently
Kate Webb, Times Literary Supplement
California has always been the place where they went to start it big. Lured by 'gold, fame, citrus' as a character puts it, a phrase on which her book is a fascinating, dystopian fugue . . . Like McCarthy, her desert landscapes are dense as well as barren, not just in the physical detail with which they're rendered, but the significance with which characters imbue them . . . A powerful portrait of an apocalypse less the result of external catastrophe, than familiar human failings
Sam Kitchener, Independent
A Mad Max world painted with a finer brush . . . beautiful and profoundly unsettling