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Reading & Book Signing with Anne Valente

By Lauren Cassulis on March 6, 2019

Join us at the Colgate Bookstore on Thursday, May 16th at 6:30pm for a reading and book signing of, “The Desert Sky Before Us“, with Anne Valente!

Anne Valente’s debut novel, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down, released from William Morrow/HarperCollins in 2016 and was selected as a Midwest Connection Pick and an Amazon Best Book of the Month. Her second novel, The Desert Sky Before Us, is forthcoming from William Morrow in May 2019. Her short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names, won the Dzanc Books Short Story Prize (2014), and she is also the author of the fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics, which was re-released by Bull City Press in 2017.

Her fiction appears in One Story, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Ninth Letter and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others, and won Copper Nickel’s 2012 Fiction Prize and a 2015 Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award Finalist Prize. She was the Georges and Anne Borchardt Scholar at the 2014 Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a featured author at the 2015 One Story Debutante Ball, and a Walter E. Dakin Fiction Fellow at the 2017 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. This January, she will be a Fellow-in-Residence at the Women’s International Study Center. Her work was selected as notable in Best American Non-Required Reading 2011 and anthologized in Best Small Fictions 2017, and her essays appear in The Believer, Catapult, The Rumpus and The Washington Post.

She holds an MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University and a PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Cincinnati. Originally from St. Louis, she currently lives in Hamilton, New York where she teaches creative writing and literature at Hamilton College.

From award-winning author Anne Valente comes this poignant and unforgettable literary novel of two estranged sisters—one, a former racecar driver and the other a recently-released prisoner—who embark on a road trip together to complete the scavenger hunt their mother designed for them before her death.

When Billie is released from a correctional facility in Decatur, her sister Rhiannon is there to meet her, even though the two haven’t seen each other in months. Painful secrets and numerous unspoken betrayals linger between them—but most agonizing is the sudden passing of their mother, a renowned paleontologist.

Rhiannon and Billie must overcome their differences as they set off on a road trip west, following the breadcrumb-trail of their late mother’s scavenger hunt, a sort of second funeral she planned in her final days. The sisters know the trail will end in Utah at the famous Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry, where their mother spent her career researching dinosaur fossils. But the seemingly endless days on the road soon take their toll, forcing Rhiannon and Billie to confront their hostilities and revisit old memories—both good and bad.

As they travel across the heart of America, and as a series of plane crashes in the news make their journey all the more urgent, the two sisters begin to rediscover each other and to uncover their late mother’s veiled second life, taking them on an unexpected emotional journey inward—and forcing them to come to terms with their own choices in life.


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