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About Leni Zumas
Leni Zumas grew up in Washington, DC, and now lives in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches creative writing at Portland State University. Her obsessions include maps, ships, drums, and all forms of the atypical. Her new novel, RED CLOCKS, comes out in January from Lee Boudreaux Books/Little, Brown.
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Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom. Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivv?r, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer.
Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro's best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling herbalist, or "mender," who brings all their fates together when she's arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.
Red Clocks is at once a riveting drama, whose mysteries unfold with magnetic energy, and a shattering novel of ideas. In the vein of Margaret Atwood and Eileen Myles, Leni Zumas fearlessly explores the contours of female experience, evoking The Handmaid's Tale for a new millennium. This is a story of resilience, transformation, and hope in tumultuous -- even frightening -- times.
A teenage boy discovers his blind mother making a pass at his new best friend. A woman works in a factory by day and tends to a menagerie of sick animals by night. An aspiring witch is disillusioned by her spiritual shortcomings. A girl from a town so small it doesn’t exist on any map runs away with a rock band—all the while attempting to chart her way back home.
The odds stacked against them, the lovingly rendered outsiders in these stories find connectedness and redemption in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Even the most surreal and ethereal moments take on a surprising familiarity, and the darkest experiences are imbued with unexpected hope. To become engrossed in Zumas’s world is a strange and beautiful delight.
“Zumas gives socially awkward, mysteriously gifted and self-destructive outcasts spellbinding, unflinching voice in her debut collection. The heroes in this collection are trapped; some are resigned to years of caregiving, many are institutionalized and nearly all haunt the fringes of normalcy (or disregard the normal altogether).” —Publishers Weekly
“Attention unrequited lovers, sisters of suicidal brothers, children of the legally blind: you are not alone. Leni Zumas understands your quiet agony.” —Miranda July, author of No One Belongs Here More Than You
Leni Zumas's haunting debut novel, The Listeners, depicts a family struggling with loss and faced with the difficulty of honoring a loved one's memory while letting go of grief.
Hypnotic and profoundly disquieting, The Listeners explores a far-out world where a patchwork of memory, sensation, and imagination maps the flickering presence of ghosts. This is the story of a woman whose life is shaped by tragedy. Quinn is thirtysomething, a survivor of a fractured and eccentric childhood marred by the death of her younger sister. Twenty years later, she is in the midst of a decade-long slide down the other side of punk-rock stardom after her successful music career was abruptly halted. Sassy and smart, tough but broken, Quinn is at loose ends. She develops unique strategies for coping, but no matter what twisted tactic Quinn conjures to keep her psyche intact, she cannot keep the past away. The Listeners is about what lurks in the shadows and what happens when what's lurking insists on being seen. Leni Zumas portrays a world twisted on its axis by loss, in all its grotesque beauty. From the first line the prose is glorious: pricklingly honest and hallucinatory, a lucid dream world realized. The Listeners marks the debut of a major American writer.