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Deep River
by Karl Marlantes




Overview -
Karl Marlantes's debut novel Matterhorn has been hailed as a modern classic of war literature. In his new novel, Deep River, Marlantes turns to another mode of storytelling--the family epic--to craft a stunningly expansive narrative of human suffering, courage, and reinvention.

In the early 1900s, as the oppression of Russia's imperial rule takes its toll on Finland, the three Koski siblings--Ilmari, Matti, and the politicized young Aino--are forced to flee to the United States. Not far from the majestic Columbia River, the siblings settle among other Finns in a logging community in southern Washington, where the first harvesting of the colossal old-growth forests begets rapid development, and radical labor movements begin to catch fire. The brothers face the excitement and danger of pioneering this frontier wilderness--climbing and felling trees one-hundred meters high--while Aino, foremost of the books many strong, independent women, devotes herself to organizing the industry's first unions. As the Koski siblings strive to rebuild lives and families in an America in flux, they also try to hold fast to the traditions of a home they left behind.

Layered with fascinating historical detail, this is a novel that breathes deeply of the sun-dappled forest and bears witness to the stump-ridden fields the loggers, and the first waves of modernity, leave behind. At its heart, Deep River is an ambitious and timely exploration of the place of the individual, and of the immigrant, in an America still in the process of defining its own identity.

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More About Deep River by Karl Marlantes

 
 
 

Overview

Karl Marlantes's debut novel Matterhorn has been hailed as a modern classic of war literature. In his new novel, Deep River, Marlantes turns to another mode of storytelling--the family epic--to craft a stunningly expansive narrative of human suffering, courage, and reinvention.

In the early 1900s, as the oppression of Russia's imperial rule takes its toll on Finland, the three Koski siblings--Ilmari, Matti, and the politicized young Aino--are forced to flee to the United States. Not far from the majestic Columbia River, the siblings settle among other Finns in a logging community in southern Washington, where the first harvesting of the colossal old-growth forests begets rapid development, and radical labor movements begin to catch fire. The brothers face the excitement and danger of pioneering this frontier wilderness--climbing and felling trees one-hundred meters high--while Aino, foremost of the books many strong, independent women, devotes herself to organizing the industry's first unions. As the Koski siblings strive to rebuild lives and families in an America in flux, they also try to hold fast to the traditions of a home they left behind.

Layered with fascinating historical detail, this is a novel that breathes deeply of the sun-dappled forest and bears witness to the stump-ridden fields the loggers, and the first waves of modernity, leave behind. At its heart, Deep River is an ambitious and timely exploration of the place of the individual, and of the immigrant, in an America still in the process of defining its own identity.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802125385
  • ISBN-10: 0802125387
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publish Date: July 2019
  • Page Count: 725
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.45 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Deep River

Before you read this review, look up “steam donkey” on Wikipedia. Take a good look at the picture, then return. Now you know what a major piece of equipment looks like in Karl Marlantes’ sprawling tale of immigrants, logging in the Pacific Northwest and what it all has to do with early 20th-century socialism. A doorstopper at over 700 pages, Deep River seems a work born from Willa Cather by way of Upton Sinclair. But this new book is its own animal, and it’s something of a masterpiece.

The story begins at the turn of the last century in Finland, the home of the brilliant, fearless, passionate Aino Koski and her family. At that time, Finland was under Russian rule, and Aino is drawn to socialism and revolution, which she clings to even through bouts of torture whose ghastliness is only hinted at. Her commitment to Comrade Lenin only grows when she and her brothers emigrate—flee is actually a better word—to Washington. Nothing dims her zeal for the coming socialist utopia, not even her troubled marriage or motherhood. Aino brings her baby along to Wobbly (Industrial Workers of the World) meetings or leaves her with her brother and his wife.

Marlantes, author of the powerful war novel Matterhorn, immerses the reader in the life of the Koski siblings, whose worldview is dominated by sisu, a Finnish concept of honor, dignity and inner strength. Sisu requires men and women to be stoic, to always fight for their honor and to work from sunup to sundown. Page after page is dedicated to the dangerous and grueling job of harvesting gigantic trees from old-growth forests—see “steam donkey.” The reader will be in awe of such hard labor done in the service of exploitive bosses who pay little. At the same time, Deep River bemoans the ruin of virgin forests, the pollution of pristine rivers, the fact that 100-pound wild salmon are now scarce. The book extols the love of family and friends and the beauty of the landscape even as that landscape is ravaged.

Best of all, Marlantes’ new novel has more than a few moments of fun and laughter. Even combative Aino can laugh at herself. In Deep River, she takes her place beside Ántonia Shimerda as one of the great heroines of literature.

 

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