National Book Award Finalist--Fiction
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.Read more...
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National Book Award Finalist--Fiction
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna's parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act "civilized." Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember--strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become--in the eyes of the law--a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
Jiles delivers a taut, evocative story of post–Civil War Texas in this riveting drama of a redeemed captive of the Kiowa tribe. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly widower, earns his living traveling around, reading news stories to gatherings of townspeople. While reading in Wichita Falls one evening in the winter of 1870, he sees an old acquaintance. Britt Johnson, the main character in Jiles’s The Color of Lightning, has just come through Indian Country with his crew. The men are returning a 10-year-old girl to her aunt and uncle in Castroville after she spent four years with the Kiowa. A free black man, Britt is reluctant to have a white child in his custody. He persuades the Captain to escort young Johanna on the remainder of the three-week journey. The Captain, who has grown daughters of his own, at first feels sorry for the girl. Johanna considers herself Kiowa; she chafes at wearing shoes and a dress, struggles to pronounce American words. Challenges and dangers confront the two during their journey, and they become attached. Jiles unfolds the stories of the Captain and Johanna, past and present, with the smooth assuredness of a burnished fireside tale, demonstrating that she is a master of the western. Agent: Liz Darhansoff, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Oct.)BookPage Reviews
Information on the highway
Poet and novelist Paulette Jiles’ latest book is once again set in the post-Civil War era, a time that she memorably evoked in previous works like The Color of Lightning. News of the World is a beautifully written story based on a real-life former soldier, Capt. Jefferson Kidd, who traveled the north Texas landscape in the 1870s reading the news—from politics to polar expeditions—to the inhabitants of small towns and frontier outposts who had no access to information outside their own limited environs.
In Wichita Falls, Capt. Kidd is approached by an old friend, Britt Johnson, for a favor. Johanna Leonberger was taken captive by the Kiowa after they killed her parents and sister. After four years with the tribe, she has been recovered. Britt asks the Captain to deliver the 10-year-old to her aunt and uncle outside San Antonio—a 400-mile journey fraught with danger from highwaymen, raiding Kiowa and the unforgiving landscape itself.
Jiles writes with great sensitivity about the bond that develops between the 70-year-old widower who has served in three wars and the girl who has completely forgotten her birth language, her parents, her people, her religion—even how to use a knife and fork. As their journey nears its end, Jiles conveys in sparse language the emotions of each of these perfectly drawn characters, building to a remarkable conclusion that will not soon be forgotten. News of the World is highly recommended historical fiction that brings to life an overlooked period of Texas history.