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The Removed: A Novel
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"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."
—Tommy Orange, author of There There

A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM
USA Today * O, the Oprah Magazine * Entertainment Weekly * Harper's Bazaar * Buzzfeed * Washington Post * Elle * Parade * San Francisco Chronicle * Good Housekeeping * Vulture * Refinery29 * AARP * Kirkus * PopSugar * Alma * Woman's Day * Chicago Review of Books * The Millions * Biblio Lifestyle * Library Journal * 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.

"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

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/02/2021
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780062997562
ASIN:
B088RDVZTR
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APA Citation (style guide)

Brandon Hobson. (2021). The Removed: A Novel. Ecco.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Brandon Hobson. 2021. The Removed: A Novel. Ecco.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Brandon Hobson, The Removed: A Novel. Ecco, 2021.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Brandon Hobson. The Removed: A Novel. Ecco, 2021. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        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, Conjunctions, NOON, 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.

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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

A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM
USA Today * O, the Oprah Magazine * AARP * Alma * Biblio Lifestyle * Publishers Weekly

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,...

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"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."
—Tommy Orange, author of There There

A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM
USA Today * O, the Oprah Magazine * Entertainment Weekly * Harper's Bazaar * Buzzfeed * Washington Post * Elle * Parade * San Francisco Chronicle * Good Housekeeping * Vulture * Refinery29 * AARP * Kirkus * PopSugar * Alma * Woman's Day * Chicago Review of Books * The Millions * Biblio Lifestyle * Library Journal * 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.

"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

sortTitle
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Harper’s Bazaar
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
      • content: "A beautiful, elegiac narrative that seamlessly blends the real and supernatural.... [A] wondrous, deeply felt book."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: "[A] mythic, sweeping novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Journal of Books
      • content: "If you're looking for a powerful read that explores the generational impacts of trauma, The Removed is the book for you.... Hobson's tale will leave readers wiser in many ways."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Independent Review of Books
      • content: "Spirituality is woven into the story like a soft thread of silk, binding the everyday lives of the characters with otherworldly warnings and messages of strength.... This gut-wrenching tale of broken hearts and shattered dreams spotlights the devastation caused by ongoing racism in our country, while also providing a ray of hope on the distant horizon."
      • premium: False
      • source: O, the Oprah Magazine
      • content: "A soul-stirring saga... very much about the power of storytelling, how telling tales—true or otherwise—can be bittersweet but a necessary balm."
      • premium: False
      • source: Refinery 29
      • content: "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."
      • premium: False
      • source: San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: "If we tell ourselves stories to expand our worldview, then modern literature is one of society's most powerful tools.... Rich in Cherokee folklore."
      • premium: False
      • source: LA Review of Books
      • content: "A funny, sensual, realistic, thoughtful, horrific, and ultimately truthful account of the ongoing scourge of racism in American life.... Intelligent and compassionate."
      • premium: False
      • source: Bookreporter.com
      • content: "Though rooted in—and inseparable from—the Cherokee culture, the book is also a complex, inventive and thoughtfully universal tale of love and longing."
      • premium: False
      • source: Los Angeles Times
      • content: "Extraordinary.... Pulling out all the stops, [Hobson's] carved a striking new benchmark for fiction about Native Americans."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from October 19, 2020
        National Book Award–finalist Hobson (Where the Dead Sit Talking) depicts a Cherokee family’s grief and resilience 15 years after a police officer unjustly kills one of the family’s three children in Quah, Okla. Maria Echota, a retired social worker in her 70s, battles depression and watches as her adult children struggle and her husband, Ernest, develops Alzheimer’s. Their oldest, 31-year-old Sonja, works at Quah’s public library, and they fear she’s taken an unhealthy fixation on Vin Hoff, a younger white man. Edgar, the youngest, lives in Albuquerque and is addicted to meth. The family’s plan to reunite for an annual bonfire to celebrate Cherokee independence in Quah—an event always shaped for them by memories of Ray Ray, who was killed the same day at 15 after a cop wrongly believed Ray Ray had shot a gun—are complicated when Edgar won’t answer the phone. Instead, he’s taken a train to the mysterious Darkening Land, where the spirits of David Foster Wallace and Jimi Hendrix appear, leaving the reader to wonder if Edgar has died as well. There’s hope, though, as Maria and Ernest’s foster child, Wyatt, stimulates Ernest’s decaying mind, reminding him of Ray-Ray—and Sonja’s obsession with Vin turns out to be part of a wonderfully twisted plan to heal her grief. The alternating first-person narration is punctuated by the powerful voice of Tsala, a family ancestor who died before he was forced onto the Trail of Tears. 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.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        November 1, 2020
        Ray-Ray was 15 years old when he was killed by a cop at a mall fight. The officer had heard a gunshot and fired at the Cherokee Indian in the group involved, although a white kid had been the one who fired the shot. On every anniversary of his death, Ray-Ray's parents, Maria and Ernest, hold a bonfire to remember him. This year, Ray-Ray's younger brother, Edgar, might not make it. His family hasn't seen Edgar since they staged an intervention for his drug use. While Edgar goes off to stay with an old friend in a nightmare town called only the Darkening Land, his sister, Sonja, starts a romance with a younger man, and Maria and Ernest, who is struggling with dementia, take in a foster kid named Wyatt, who reminds them of their slain son, bringing back Ernest's memories in a seeming miracle. Their Cherokee ancestor Tsala connects the family history with the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of Native Americans in the nineteenth century. With elegiac grace, The Removed tells of one family's struggles to find wholeness after tragedy.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from December 1, 2020

        Hobson follows up his National Book Award finalist Where the Dead Sit Talking with a multilayered, emotionally radiant second novel featuring the Echota family 15 years after the death of teenage son Ray-Ray, killed by a gun-ready police officer in an incident at the mall. His struggling mother, Maria; her Alzheimer's-afflicted husband, Ernest; and their remaining children--obsessive daughter Sonja and drug-addicted Edgar--approach the anniversary of Ray-Ray's death with an increasing sense of his presence and more broadly that of a mostly beneficent Spirit World. As effectively depicted in flashback, Ray-Ray was a remarkable young man, and his spirit is manifested by or through foster child Wyatt, who stays briefly with Maria and Ernest and proves singularly capable of lightening their emotional burdens. Meanwhile, Sonja engages in some risky dating behavior but with an ultimately arresting purpose, and she joins her parents in wishing that Edgar would return home for their annual commemoration of Ray-Ray on the anniversary of his death, which falls on the Cherokee National Holiday. But to return home, semi-estranged Edgar must pass through the mythical Darkening Land. VERDICT 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.--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

        Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        December 15, 2020
        Signs and wonders animate a Cherokee tale of family and community abiding through trauma. Stories are "like medicine, but without the bad taste," says Wyatt, a 12-year-old Cherokee boy in foster care who is preternaturally gifted in telling them. He spins mesmerizing, ambiguous fables about snakes and birds and an underworld, called the Darkening Land, for children at a shelter in rural Oklahoma. Wyatt, whose father is in jail and mother is in the wind, is spending a few days with Maria and Ernest Echota, the only Cherokee placement available. Fifteen years earlier, a White policeman shot and killed the couple's middle child, Ray-Ray, outside a mall. Now Wyatt's quirks and buoyant impersonations startle the Echotas by echoing those of Ray-Ray. More remarkably, the presence of this child appears to draw Ernest back from the fog of Alzheimer's. Maria, her surviving son, Edgar, and daughter, Sonja, all take turns narrating. So does Tsala, a mysterious figure who declares, "We are speakers of the dead, the drifters and messengers....We are always restless, carrying the dreams of children and the elderly, the tired and sick, the poor, the wounded. The removed." The talented Hobson conjures both the Trail of Tears and family fracturing, as he did in Where the Dead Sit Talking (2018), a finalist for the National Book Award. The traumas of forced removal and Ray-Ray's killing twine in Maria's depression, Edgar's meth use, and Sonja's drifting detachment. "I used to stare out the window, envying trees," she says. "This became a regular pattern of thought for me...that I stared at a tree outside and envied its anonymity, its beauty and silence....A tree could stand over a hundred years and remain authentic." Edgar, in his own Darkening Land, fights a treacherous fellow named Jackson Andrews, an evocation of Andrew Jackson. Each of the Echotas gropes toward their annual family bonfire commemorating Ray-Ray on the Cherokee National Holiday. Spare, strange, bird-haunted, and mediated by grief, the novel defies its own bleakness as its calls forth a delicate and monumental endurance. A slim yet wise novel boils profound questions down to its final word: "Home."

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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