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Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida. Her first collection of short stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and a finalist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. Her second collection of stories, The Isle of Youth , received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Find Me is her first novel. She lives in the Boston area.
Author photo © Paul Yoon
June 2015 Debut of the Month. A sensitive debut novel by a young American author, previously praised for her short stories, Find Me belongs to the somewhat topical recent school of hopeful dystopias and reminded me of both Sarah Pinborough’s The Death House, for its teenagers enclosed in a prison/hospital space and Emily St.John Mandel’s Station Eleven for its wanderings along the bleak roads of a post-apocalyptic America. Following a partly unexplained epidemic that has devastated civilisation, Joy, a matter of fact street child at quite the opposite pole of the heroics of a Katniss Everdeen struggles with the nature of memory and a mother who abandoned her as a baby. Her picaresque quest, following the rigours of incarceration, takes her and colourful accompanying characters through traumatised landscapes to Florida in search of a holy grail of understanding. Van Den Berg’s talent lies in a visceral identification with a heroine both spunky and vulnerable and the journey will delight many readers with its message of hope against adversity. ~ Maxim Jakubowski A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'One of my favourite novels of all time is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. So when I read a review of Laura van den Berg’s Find Me which compared it not only to Atwood but to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, my interest was firmly piqued. For once you can believe the hype – Laura’s debut novel is beautifully written and is so much more than just a great dystopian novel. It’s also a powerful exploration of the human condition and of loneliness. Laura’s prose is hauntingly lovely and the praise for her writing just keeps on coming. (‘The best young writer in America’ is my personal favourite.) This is also a novel that leaves you with questions – it’s the first time ever that Emily, our assistant editor, and I have sat in my office having a mini – but in-depth – reading group about a book we’ve both loved. It’s also a book the whole Ebury Fiction team has fallen in love with – so much so that we crashed it into our schedules, bringing out the eBook 10 days after we bought the book and now we’re publishing the hardback. So if like me you loved The Handmaid’s Tale – or last year’s Station Eleven – then I’d urge you to read Find Me.' ~ Gillian Green, Publishing Director – Fiction, Ebury
The stories in Laura van den Berg's rich and inventive debut illuminate the intersection of the mythic and the mundane. A failed actress takes a job as a Bigfoot impersonator. A grieving missionary becomes obsessed with a creature rumoured to live in the forests of the Congo. And, in the title story, a young woman travelling with her scientist mother in Madagascar confronts her burgeoning sexuality and her dream of becoming a long-distance swimmer. Rendered with grace and precision, this breathtaking collection is narrated by women yearning for absolution, for solace, for the flash of extraordinary that will forever alter their lives.