Bobbie Ann Mason’s debut novel—"a brilliant and moving book... a moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish." —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“How Ms. Mason conjures a vivid image of the futility of war and its searing legacy of confusion out of the searching questions or a naïve later generation is nothing short of masterful.” —Kansas City Star
Samantha “Sam” Hughes is in her senior year of high school in rural Kentucky. Her father, whom she never knew, was killed in Vietnam before she was born. Sam lives with her uncle Emmett, a veteran who appears to be suffering from exposure to Agent Orange. Amidst worrying about her uncle and yearning to figure out who she is and learn about the father she never knew, Sam develops feelings for Tom, one of Emmett's veteran buddies. Tom and Emmett attempt to shield Sam from the truth of what they endured, but she has become convinced that her life is bound to the war in Vietnam.
In Country is both a powerful and touching novel of America’s ghosts and a beautiful portrayal of a family, not unlike many others, left bruised and twisted by the war. At the time of its publication in 1985, Richard Eder’s rave LA Times review concluded: “One of the questions for post-war American literature, dealt with variously by Updike, Cheever, Roth, Salinger and a host of others, is whether the larger capacities of the human spirit can be exercised, so to speak, in a motel room equipped with color TV and a drinks refrigerator. The answers vary; Mason has found her own striking variety of ‘yes.’”
Praise For In Country: A Novel…
— Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"A moral tale that entwines public history with private anguish."
— Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"It’s as impressive a work of fiction as I’ve read recently, on Vietnam or any other subject."
— Robert Wilson, USA Today
"Mason’s message is simple: The war dead are us—we are them—and, whatever political stance we took with regard to Vietnam, we are all Americans united by one past, one flag, one history."
— San Francisco Chronicle
Harper Perennial, 9780060835170, 272pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
About the Author
Bobbie Ann Mason is the author of a number of works of fiction, including The Girl in the Blue Beret, In Country, An Atomic Romance, and Nancy Culpepper. The groundbreaking Shiloh and Other Stories won the PEN Hemingway Award and was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the American Book Award, and the PEN Faulkner Award. Her memoir, Clear Springs, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has won two Southern Book Awards and numerous other prizes, including the O. Henry and the Pushcart. Former writer-in-residence at the University of Kentucky, she lives in Kentucky.