A spare, lyrical Native American coming of age story set in rural Oklahoma in the late 1980s
With his single mother in jail, Sequoyah, a fifteen-year-old Cherokee boy, is placed in foster care with the Troutt family. Literally and figuratively scarred by his unstable upbringing, Sequoyah has spent years mostly keeping to himself, living with his emotions pressed deep below the surface—that is, until he meets seventeen-year-old Rosemary, another youth staying with the Troutts.
Sequoyah and Rosemary bond over their shared Native American background and tumultuous paths through the foster care system, but as Sequoyah’s feelings towards Rosemary deepen, the precariousness of their lives and the scars of their pasts threaten to undo them both.
“Hobson’s narrative control is stunning…Far more than a mere coming-of-age story, this is a remarkable and moving novel. –Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] poignant and disturbing coming-of-age story. . . Hobson presents a painfully visceral drama about the overlooked lives of those struggling on the periphery of mainstream society.” —Booklist
“Where the Dead Sit Talking is a sensitive and searching exploration of a youth forged in turbulence, in the endless aftermath of displacement and loss. Sequoyah’s voice is powerfully singular—both wounded and wounding—and this novel is a thrilling confirmation of Brandon Hobson’s immense gifts on the page.”
—Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me
‘Weird and intimate, like Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen, Where the Dead Sit Talking takes us to a strange, dangerous place normally kept hidden. From the opening hook, with the unhurried authority of a master, Brandon Hobson initiates the reader into the secret lives of lost and unwanted teenagers trying to survive in an uncaring world. Creepy, sad, yet queerly thrilling.’–Stewart O’Nan, author of The Speed Queen
“Where the Dead Sit Talking is a tender and unflinching look at shell-shocked young lives as they try in the eddies of foster care to keep their heads above water. Hobson writes with a humane authority but without giving his characters any alibis. What we have instead is a careful look at what it means to be physically and literally scarred, abandoned by parents, Native American in a white world, haunted by death, and on the verge of becoming an adult. A wonderful, harrowing novel.” —Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain
“I fear and ferociously admire everything Brandon Hobson creates. He is the only person who can describe the way an object becomes whole when we have enough time to look at it or the presence of a loved one in the air even after she is gone. In this heartbreaking and vital novel there is an unconfessable world of pain, desire, and longing. A careful oscillating dance around avoiding the pangs of abandonment and wanting to go through them all at once to get the suffering over with. Sequoyah, his scars, and eye makeup will leave you with wide eyes and a brimming heart.” –Chiara Barzini, author of Things that Happened Before the Earthquake
“Hobson’s eloquent prose and story line will keep literary and general fiction readers turning pages.”—Library Journal