News of the World|Paulette Jiles


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National Book Award Finalist--Fiction

In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers 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, forming 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.


  • ISBN-13: 9780062409218
  • ISBN-10: 0062409212
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: June 2017
  • Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.55 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.55 pounds
  • Page Count: 240

Book clubs: Dollars and sense

Lionel Shriver looks to the future—2029, to be exact—in the smart, insightful The Mandibles, a novel that chronicles the catastrophic effects of a global financial crisis. At the center of the novel is the Mandible clan, who await the inheritance that’s due to come their way once Douglas, the head of the family, dies. When the U.S. economy tanks, due in part to a massive cyberattack, the Mandibles lose their fortune and are forced to give up their affluent lifestyles. The ways in which each member of the family reacts to the loss make for a fascinating narrative. Douglas and his wife, Luella, leave their retirement digs and move in with their son. Daughter Avery and her professor-husband begin living with Avery’s charitable sister, Florence. All are forced to rethink their lives and reconsider old relationships. Shriver presents a chilling account of a country undone by disaster, but she balances the grim proceedings with humor and intelligence.

Brad Watson explores the nature of physical and spiritual love in his acclaimed novel Miss Jane. Set in Mississippi in the early 1900s, the novel tells the story of Jane Chisolm, who is born with a rare disorder of the reproductive system. With an alcoholic father and distant mother offering little in the way of family life, Jane is looked after by her sister, Grace, and by kindhearted Eldred Thompson, a doctor who offers her compassion and understanding. Although Jane’s condition sets her apart, she comes to know love, after a fashion, and the farm where she grows up provides a natural backdrop that’s marvelously alive. Inspired by the life of Watson’s great-aunt, the narrative offers a richly detailed portrait of the rural South. Watson’s bare-bones prose style is arresting, and his portrayal of Jane’s inner life is complex and authentic. Longlisted for the National Book Award, this rewarding novel is sure to be a book club favorite.

A finalist for the National Book Award, Paulette Jiles’ mesmerizing novel News of the World is a beautifully rendered tale of the Old West that focuses on Johanna Leonberger, a 10-year-old who’s been taken captive by Kiowa raiders. Johanna’s parents and sister were killed by the Kiowa, and she has lived among them since the age of 6. When Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd—a 70-year-old war veteran—comes to take her to live with relatives near San Antonio, Johanna, who has forgotten how to speak English, is frightened and reluctant to go. Their journey home makes for remarkable reading. Along the way, the contradictory twosome smooth out the rough edges of their relationship and develop an unexpected rapport. Jiles writes beautifully about Texas in the late 1870s, using poetic prose to tell a timeless story. Named the top book of 2016 by the editors of BookPage and slated for a film adaptation starring Tom Hanks, News of the World is a must-read for lovers of historical fiction.

This article was originally published in the July 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.