The Watermelon King
By Daniel Wallace
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618221387, 240pp.)
Publication Date: February 1, 2003
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From an author whose work has been praised for its "wit, subtle compassion, and an offbeat originality" (Boston Globe) comes a novel as unforgettable as it is compelling. An endearing blend of fable, fairy tale, and page-turner, The Watermelon King brings readers back to Ashland, Alabama--immortalized in Big Fish--a fictional town whose identity is based on its long-ago abundance of watermelons.
Thomas Rider knows almost nothing about his parents, only that his mother died the day he was born in Ashland. He travels there and interviews the townspeople, learning of the town's bizarre past. Most importantly, he learns about the Watermelon Festival, which at one time occurred annually and would symbolically ensure the continued fertility of the crop that sustained them--and how his mother came to destroy it. Piecing together his own identity, as well as that of the town, Thomas finds himself immersed in a series of events that turns everything he knows upside down.
Outrageous at times and heartbreaking at others, The Watermelon King is a vivid exploration of the power of history and of storytelling, of identity and myth. This novel is Wallace's most provocative and inventive work to date.
Daniel Wallace is the author of the novels Big Fish and Ray in Reverse and is also an illustrator. His books have been translated into eight languages. The film version of Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton, will be released later this year.