Set in Arco, Idaho, in 1970, The Girl Who Slept with God tells the story of three sisters: moral-minded Grace, gregarious and strong-willed Jory, and young Frances. Their father, Oren, is a respected member of the community and science professor at the local college. Yet their mother’s depression and Grace’s religious fervor threaten the seemingly perfect family, whose world is upended when Grace returns from a missionary trip to Mexico and discovers she’s pregnant with—she believes—the child of God. Distraught, Oren sends Jory and Grace to an isolated home at the edge of the town. There, they prepare for the much-awaited arrival of the baby while building a makeshift family that includes an elderly eccentric neighbor and a tattooed social outcast who drives an ice cream truck. Vocally graceful, fearlessly intimate, and written with a loving heart, this novel is a complex and compassionate exploration of modern-day faith, family, and love.
Val Brelinski was born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, the daughter of devout evangelical Christians. She was a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, where she was also a Jones Lecturer in fiction writing. She received an MFA from the University of Virginia, and her writing has been published in VQR and The Rumpus.
In her wildly inventive debut novel, Naomi J. Williams reimagines the historical La Perouse expedition, a voyage of exploration that left Brest in 1785 with two frigates, two hundred men, and overblown Enlightenment ideals and expectations, in a brave attempt to circumnavigate the globe for science and the glory of France. Deeply grounded in historical fact but refracted through a powerful imagination, Landfalls follows the exploits and heartbreaks not only of the men on the ships but also of the people affected by the voyage-natives and other Europeans the explorers encountered, loved ones left waiting at home, and those who survived and remembered the expedition later.
Each chapter is told from a different point of view and is set in a different part of the world-ranging from London to Tenerife, Alaska to remote South Pacific islands and Siberia, and eventually back to France. The result is a beautifully written and absorbing tale of the high seas, scientific exploration, human tragedy, and the world on the cusp of the modern era.
Naomi J. Williams was born in Japan and spoke no English until she was six years old. Her short fiction has appeared in journals such as A Public Space, One Story, The Southern Review, and The Gettysburg Review. In 2009, she received a Pushcart Prize and a Best American Honorable Mention. Naomi has an MA in Creative Writing from UC Davis.