A Book I Liked

In the Distance
By Hernan Diaz
pub. 2017

“A Book I Liked” is a deliberate understatement.

In the Distance, roughly speaking, is about a man, Håkan, who immigrates to America from Sweden, intending to go to New York. Instead, he ends up in the American West, and the book recounts his adventures and misadventures throughout his life.

That summary is like saying Moby Dick is about a guy and a whale.

Diaz’ imagination in spinning the stories of the extraordinary events in Håkan’s life, the intensity of his depictions of them, and the harsh beauty of his prose easily explain the reason why this, his first novel, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He had to wait until his second novel, Trust, in 2022, to actually win the Pulitzer. That’s a pretty good track record for your first two books.

In the Distance was so compelling that when I say I couldn’t put it down, that’s literal. I had to make myself go to bed the first night, and finished it within 24 hours. This is not a “beach read,” and some of the events are not to be read by the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for a gorgeous gut punch of a book, run, don’t walk, to the nearest library, bookstore, Libby app, or kindle near you.

About Verla

Wordfreak. Retired private investigator and Spanish court interpreter. Erstwhile librarian. Texan by birth, cheesehead by upbringing, latina by soul, in New Mexico by choice. Lover of things purple. Passionate participant in the Librivox audiobook recording project. We record books that are in the public domain in the U.S. The recordings are then placed in the public domain themselves.
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