9780399160707

MARY COIN

Marisa Silver

In 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, photographer Dorothea Lange took a photograph for the Federal Resettlement Program that would become the most iconic image of that unforgettable time in American history. Her subject was Florence Owens Thompson, a thirty-two-year-old Native American and mother of seven, whose arresting face became the defining symbol of American poverty. Mary Coin is a novel inspired by that photograph.

Three vibrant characters anchor Mary Coin: the migrant mother herself;

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In 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, photographer Dorothea Lange took a photograph for the Federal Resettlement Program that would become the most iconic image of that unforgettable time in American history. Her subject was Florence Owens Thompson, a thirty-two-year-old Native American and mother of seven, whose arresting face became the defining symbol of American poverty. Mary Coin is a novel inspired by that photograph.

Three vibrant characters anchor Mary Coin: the migrant mother herself; Vera Dare, the young photographer wrestling with ambition and the lingering effects of childhood Polio, who is forced to abandon her own children in order to work; and Walker Dodge, a present-day professor of cultural archeology, who discovers a secret to his family history in the picture. In luminous, exquisitely observed prose, author Marisa Silver deftly weaves the few known facts of the famous photograph and its subject with a captivating plot and multigenerational narrative, and burnishes this remarkable fiction with profound explorations of memory and identity. Though we want to believe a great photograph will capture the essence of its subject, an image, in the end, only scratches the surface of the truth.

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Hardcover

Price: $26.95

ISBN: 9780399160707

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About Marisa Silver

Marisa Silver made her fiction debut in The New Yorker when she was featured in that magazine’s first “Debut Fiction” issue. Her collection of short stories, Babe in Paradise was published by W.W. Norton in 2001. That collection was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. In 2005, W.W. Norton published her novel, No Direction Home. Her novel, The God of War, was published in 2008 by Simon and Schuster and is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction. Her collection of stories, Alone With You, was published by Simon and Schuster in2010. Her novel, Mary Coin, will be published by Penguin/Blue Rider Press in 2013. Winner of the O. Henry Prize, her fiction has been included in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, as well as other anthologies.

Praise

Mary Coin is quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years. ‘You’ll know who you are when you start losing things,’ says one character, and the story burns in this quietly emphatic way, only to erupt in moments of excruciating pain and beauty. In her portrayal of a time in American history when survival was often a day-to-day thing, Silver drills down to the absolute essentials: family, love, loss, the perpetual uncertainty of life. Again and again I found myself wondering: How does she know that? Silver’s wisdom is rare, and her novel is the work of a master.”—Ben Fountain, author of the 2012 National Book Award winner Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

“Marisa Silver renders the soul of an iconic image, giving it moving life. Mary Coin is a soaring work of imagination, dedication and history.”—Mona Simpson, author of My Hollywood and Anywhere But Here

“An extraordinarily compassionate and wise novel, Mary Coin imagines the life of Dorothea Lange’s iconic “Migrant Mother.” What emerges, in Silver’s nuanced, resonant telling, is a poignant exploration of a single life that touches many others, and a powerful, moving portrait of America during the Great Depression. Silver is one of those preternaturally gifted writers who can with the lightest of touches make the reader enter a world that feels as fully real as the one around us.”—Meghan O’Rourke, author of The Long Goodbye

“Inspired by Migrant Mother, the iconic Depression-era photograph snapped by Dorothea Lange in 1936, Silver reimagines the lives of both the photographer and the subject….this dual portrait investigates the depths of the human spirit, exposing the inner reserves of will and desire hidden in both women….The luminously written, heart-wrenching—yet never maudlin—plot moves back and forth through time, as history professor Walker Dodge unpeels the layers of the photograph’s hidden truths.”—Margaret Flanagan, Booklist