19 Oct News of the World
By: Paulette Jiles
News of the World is set in Texas in the 1870s, and the story will bring to mind such western classics as True Grit and The Searchers. Captain Jefferson Kidd is a 70-year old veteran of two wars. Widowed, his children grown, and his career as a typesetter/printer at an end, he sets off to make his living as an itinerant reader. He travels through Texas giving public readings from newspapers to audiences eager to hear about events of the world. Johanna Leonberger is a 10 year-old who survives a raid by Kiowas in which her family was killed. She was taken by the tribe at age 6 and has lived with the Kiowas ever since. Because of increased harassment by the cavalry, the Kiowas sell the girl back to an Indian agent, and Captain Kidd is engaged to transport her back to her German aunt and uncle near San Antonio. Reluctant to take on the responsibility at first, Captain Kidd eventually agrees because the itinerant nature of his job makes him and logical choice, and because it is the right thing to do. Thus begins the story of the journeys – the physical one across Texas, the relationship between Johanna and Captain Kidd, and Johanna’s return to the culture of her birth. Jiles provides insight into the struggles captives experienced once returned to white society, often lasting a lifetime. And, she deftly builds the relationship of respect and trust between Johanna and the “Kepdun.” This book will appeal to more readers than just those who love the Western genre, as it’s story is compelling, it’s prose is lyrical and enjoyable to read, and it paints a vivid picture of political and social life of the post-Civil War west.
News of the World is a 2016 National Book Award Nominee.
About the author: Paulette Jiles was a poet before becoming a novelist. Her books are spare and lyrical tales with well-drawn and compelling characters., Her historic novels are well-researched and reveal aspects and details of history that are not well known. Her books are unsentimental, yet touching, with an extraordinary ability to convey mood and atmosphere. She now lives on a small ranch near a very small town in the Texas Hill Country..
Review By: Donna LeFeber