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Longlisted for the 2018 National Book Awards
A New York Times Editor's Choice
Time's 10 Best Fiction Books of 2018
Library Journal's Best Books of 2018
The searing, unforgettable story of a young girl's resilience, by the award-winning author of Prayers for the Stolen
Pearl's mother took her away from her family just weeks after she was born, and drove off to central Florida determined to begin a new life for herself and her daughter--in the parking lot next to a trailer park. Pearl grew up in the front seat of their '94 Mercury, while her mother lived in the back. Despite their hardships, mother and daughter both adjusted to life, making friends with the residents of the trailers and creating a deep connection to each other. All around them, Florida is populated with gun owners--those hunting alligators for sport, those who want to protect their families, and those who create a sense of danger.
Written in a gorgeous lyric all its own, Gun Love is the story of a tough but optimistic young woman growing up in contemporary America, in the midst of its harrowing love affair with firearms.
About the Author
JENNIFER CLEMENT is the author of multiple books, including Widow Basquiat. She was awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship and the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award for Prayers for the Stolen. The president of PEN International, she currently lives in Mexico City.
Praise for Gun Love:
“Dreamy…as if to suggest the self-delusion of the real-life actors involved….the writing is crisp and the images sharp.” — New York Times Book Review
“Offer[s] a glimpse of what a poetics of gun violence might look like… In this book, the machinery of violence purchases a sense of belonging—of thrilling, life-or-death simplicity.” — Katy Waldman, The New Yorker.com
"This book feel like a great lost murder ballad by the likes of Johnny Cash or Nick Cave…There are echoes here of other great chroniclers of violence, such as Cormac McCarthy, and this is one of those rare books that the reader might wish to be a few dozen pages longer, to spend some more time in this fully realised world." — Alexander Larman, The Observer
“Through a memorable coming-of-age story set in America’s margins, Clement makes all of these things true at once: A gun is a valentine, a secret-bearer, a penitent, a world destroyer, an exposed belly, an insurance policy, a sudden act of God.” — Salon
"Clement creates a weird poetry of murderous force. Chekhov’s narrative principle—that a gun hung on the wall in the first act must eventually go off—has become a metaphorical rule of storytelling. To reflect American reality, Ms Clement puts a gun on every wall in every room." — The Economist
“Though this world is harrowing, it's also fortified with ample wit and tenderness. The sweet sorrow of doomed maternal love is at the novel's thrumming center, as is the author's cockeyed affection for the region. "In our part of Florida everything was puzzled," Pearl tells us. Gun Love potently illuminates this puzzled land, and the complicated fates of those who dwell in the pockets visitors won't find on a map.” — O, The Oprah Magazine
"[T]hat this novel cast a deep spell on me that has yet to subside. Clement relays Pearl’s trouble-strewn story in the kind of prose that gets called “poetic”: it’s taut, spare, musical, metaphor-laden, haunting, and every so often hits you so hard in the gut that you gasp." — Jonathan Miles (BookPage, "What They're Reading")
"It’s been a long time since I’ve been so mesmerized with a novel’s each next sentence. Jennifer Clement is one of our most inventive novelists. There’s no telling what she’ll see. Whatever it is, it’s something right in front of us, but—here is the magic trick—something we have never before seen. Gun Love is an amazement: fierce, inventive, tender." — Rick Bass
"Jennifer Clement is a master at creating worlds that feel like tiny dioramas —modern allegories, reflecting and responding to social issues while still feeling contained and mystical, like something you’d see inside of the world’s most ornate snow globe, or a theme park — that is, until politics invade these worlds, and these worlds become recognizable as ones that exist both on and off the page." — Miami Rail Review
"...Clement is a brilliant stylist; her figurative language is far more than fine; her metaphors and similes are superb; and together they create a haunting atmosphere—sometimes fey, occasionally whimsical, no stranger to tragedy but always heartfelt and spot-on, as are her beautifully realized, captivating characters. Though suigeneris, her work may remind some readers of Flannery O’Connor’s. Always evocative, it is an unforgettable knockout not to be missed." — Booklist (starred)
"Pearl's story takes place in a world both strange and familiar, in the fairy tale of her mother's imagination and in an America pockmarked by gun violence and poverty. Readers will root for Pearl to—somehow—reconcile the two visions, even as fate forces her hand. Clement's quiet tragedy is moving, unsettling, and filled with characters who will haunt you long after the story ends." — Kirkus
"Clement’s affecting and memorable novel is also an incisive social commentary that will give readers much to ponder." — Publishers Weekly
“Clement’s latest is made memorable by the resilient Pearl, whose worldview is shaped both by the harsh, gun-saturated realities of the trailer park and by her mother’s past with its piano lessons and fine china. This unusual and impressive novel is carried by her tough, lyrical voice.” — Library Journal