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The New Yorker: "Southwood...delivers a powerful portait of grief."

Date: Apr 29 2013

In this poignant début novel—based on the destruction of Murphysboro, Illinois, in 1925—a tornado flattens the Midwestern town of Marah. In the aftermath, "horses will scream and rear, even if their heads are blanketed, even if they are led by hand, at the smell of so many dead." The Graves family weathers the storm miraculously unharmed but far from unchanged. Before the storm, Mae thought her husband, Paul, was invincible, "like a house cat, Mae once thought privately, who discounted the rumor of tigers." Now they must endure the envious and, ultimately, cruel gaze of their neighbors, who cannot forgive the Graveses' fortune. Southwood stays very close to the family as they negotiate Marah's souring social terrain, and delivers a powerful portrait of grief.

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