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Reader Reviewed
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Gold Fame Citrus

Literary Fiction   Thriller / Suspense   Debuts of the Month   eBook Favourites   
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February 2016 Debut of the Month.

Gold mines, the fame of Hollywood, the orange groves, three great symbols of California, three reasons to go there. Now none of them remains. There is no more water and without it nothing can live, but people are stubborn and life endures. Young lovers Luz and Ray struggle on the edges of an empty and collapsing society, until they find a strange child and with her a reason to try and leave the desert for a better life. It is an impossible and heart-breaking journey. This is not just a dystopian thriller. The climactic changes are plausible, worryingly possible. The situations make sense, and make us wonder what we would do if faced with the same. It is an excellent novel for our times; a tale of instincts, twists and betrayals; a compelling piece of writing. ~ Sarah Broadhurst

If you like Claire Vaye Watkins you might also like to read books by Paolo Bacigalupi, Hugh Howey and Cormac McCarthy.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our expert opinion, a small number of our Lovereading reader review panel members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title. You can read the full reviews here.

  • Angie Rhodes - 'This is so well written, you can taste the sand grains and feel the heat and panic.'
  • Victoria Halliday - ‘A lyrically-written dystopian novel about life in California after the water has run out. Highly recommended.’
  • Vikki Patis - ’There's something deliciously awful about society disintegrating and humankind having to fight for survival.’
  • Keith Currie - ‘This novel blazes with a dangerously brilliant intensity, a polemic on man-made ecological disaster, which happens to be beautifully and inventively written.’
  • Mary Gibson - ‘A dystopian drama that echoes some of the great American writers - Margaret Atwood, Marge Piercy, Cormac McCarthy.’
  • Sarah Musk – ‘A haunting, strange book about a part of America which has turned to desert and the people who cling on to a world which is gradually slipping away into the sand.’
  • Tanya Thurling - 'I honestly thought I was going to love this book, but I struggled to get through it and I must admit that even though I stuck it out and read until the end, it's left me feeling a bit confused.'
  • Alex Hetherington - 'The writing is very eloquent and at times the individual harrowing moments of what lies around them works...'
  • Julie Bertschin - 'A strange and mystical voyage through the people left behind the desert sand dunes.  Luz and Ray are nomads who journey together through the deserted west coast of America in search of hope.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'There was a real dream like quality about the story, but it was easy to imagine a world where it could alter so much...'
  • Ian Tyreman - 'Interesting concept for a novel but just didn't grip me.'


Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Desert sands have laid waste to the south-west of America. Las Vegas is buried. California - and anyone still there - is stranded. Any way out is severely restricted. But Luz and Ray are not leaving. They survive on water rations, black market fruit and each other's need. Luz needs Ray, and Ray must be needed. But then they cross paths with a mysterious child, and the thirst for a better future begins. It's said there's a man on the edge of the Dune Sea. He leads a camp of believers. He can find water. Venturing into this dry heart of darkness, Luz thinks she has found their saviour. For the will to survive taps hidden powers; and the needed, and the needy, will exploit it. Like Margaret Atwood, Claire Vaye Watkins uses dystopia to traverse the scarred frontier of the heart, exploring the myths we tell about others and ourselves. In her bare and brilliant prose, nature and human nature, conspiracy and cult, motherhood and manhood are played out across the vast, implacable desert.


'An extraordinary novel: relentlessly brilliant, utterly fearless, and often savagely funny. Watkins explores the maze of human thirst in all its forms. Here's a love story that tracks the mutating hopes of two lost souls, in prose that is fever-bright and ferociously assured. More confirmation that Watkins is one of the brightest stars in our firmament' Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia and Vampires in the Lemon Grove

'Extraordinary power and beauty ... A great pleasure of the book is Watkins's fearlessness' New York Times

'Exhilarating, upsetting, delirious, bold, Gold Fame Citrus is a head rush of a novel and establishes Claire Vaye Watkins as an important new voice in American literature' Louise Erdrich, author of The Round House

'American odyssey: Set in a drought-ravaged Southern California trolled by scavengers, Gold Fame Citrus burns with a dizzying, scorching genius' Vanity Fair

'Watkins brings a gorgeous sense of language and a native desert-dweller's understanding of California to her audacious and dystopian first novel . . . The drought, the desperation and the fantasy built by the guru all feel disturbingly real' BBC

About the Author

Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins was raised in the Mojave Desert, in California and Nevada. Her writing has appeared in Granta, The Paris Review, New York Times and elsewhere. Her short story collection, Battleborn, won five awards, including the Dylan Thomas Award; was finalist for two; and was named Book of the Year by five publications. In 2012, Claire was selected as one of the National Book Foundation's '5 Under 35'. A Guggenheim Fellow and an assistant professor at Bucknell University, she is also the co-director of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada. Gold Fame Citrus is her first novel.

Author photo © Heike Steinweg

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Book Info

Publication date

4th February 2016


Claire Vaye Watkins

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Quercus Publishing


352 pages


Literary Fiction
Thriller / Suspense
Debuts of the Month
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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