Paula Saunders grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. She is a graduate of the Syracuse University creative writing program, and was awarded a postgraduate Albert Schweitzer Fellowship at the State University of New York at Albany, under then-Schweitzer chair Toni Morrison. Her Festival book, The Distance Home, was recently longlisted for the Center of Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She lives in California with her husband. They have two grown daughters.
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Reviews of The Distance Home:
- “Saunders debuts with a penetrating and insightful deconstruction of a Midwestern family” – In Publishers Weekly
- “A grim, haunting parable of split child-rearing in which the dark blots out much of the light” – In Kirkus Reviews
- “Saunders skillfully illuminates how time heals certain wounds while deepening others, and her depiction of aging is viscerally affecting” – In the New York Times
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The Distance Home
Set in a circa-1960s rural South Dakota – a hard-scrabble place of cattle-buyers, homegrown ballet studios, casual drug abuse, and unmitigated pressure to conform – this novel portrays a loving but struggling young family in turmoil and two siblings, Rene and Leon, who opt for different but equally extreme means of escaping the burdens of home. By turns funny and tragic, lyrical and terse, Paula Saunders’ debut examines the classic American questions: what is to become of the vulnerable in a culture of striving and power? And what is the effect of this striving and power on both those who dominate and those who are overrun?