All the Living
All the Living
By C. E. Morgan
Picador USA, Paperback, 9780312429324, 199pp.
Publication Date: February 2, 2010
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
One of the National Book Foundation's 5 Best Writers Under 35
Finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a distinguished book of fiction
Third Place in Fiction for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
Aloma is an orphan, raised by her aunt and uncle, educated at a mission school in the Kentucky mountains. At the start of the novel, she moves to an isolated tobacco farm to be with her lover, a young man named Orren, whose family has died in a car accident, leaving him in charge. The place is rough and quiet; Orren is overworked and withdrawn. Left mostly to her own, Aloma struggles to settle herself in this lonely setting and to find beauty and stimulation where she can. As she decides whether to stay with Orren, she will choose either to fight her way to independence or accept the rigors of commitment.
Both a drama of age-old conflicts and a portrait of modern life, C. E. Morgan's debut novel is "simply astonishing . . . a book about life force, the precious will to live, and all the things that can suck it right out of a person" (Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times).
"Rarely in this reviewer's memory has a debut novel emerged with such a profound sense of place.... Descriptions are so vivid, yet so integrated and organic, that the reader can almost feel the lassitude of stifling humid air; smell the rich, warm earth; and see the furrowed fields, the dark mountains in the distance.... A slow, seductive dive into another time and place, a deep, quiet place."--Karen Campbell, The Boston Globe
"Astonishing."--The Guardian (UK)
"[A] lyrical tale of grief and grueling love."--The New Yorker
"Those who read for character and landscape will feast on C. E. Morgan’s uncommon debut.... Fans of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead will appreciate Morgan’s sureness with scripture and her skill with characters for whom scripture matters."--Karen Long, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)