Author Téa Obreht will visit Warwick’s Thursday, Aug. 22, to discuss her newest novel “Inland.” Obreht’s first novel, “The Tiger’s Wife” made her a finalist for the National Book Award and won her the 2011 Orange Prize for fiction. Her newest novel, which came out on Aug. 13, has merited rave reviews and just last week made former President Barack Obama’s 2019 summer reading list.
Obreht was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, and emigrated during the Yugoslav Wars. As a child, Obreht lived in Cyprus, Egypt, and throughout the United States.
“Because I moved so often between homes and cultures and languages, I relied on storytelling to sustain myself and make sense of the world,” Obreht explained about her childhood.
Obreht wanted her second novel to explore the American West. Through a podcast called “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” she became inspired when learning about obscure Arizona campfire legends and the use of camels in the American Southwest.
Prior to writing “Inland,” Obreht kept the following idea in mind: “What does it take for a story to survive the passage of time? Who gets left out of foundational lore, and why?”
“Inland” is a new take on the American Western story as it weaves together the lives Lurie, an Ottoman turned outlaw who finds companionship with a camel from the U.S. Camel Corps; and Nora, a woman living in 1890s Arizona Territory, who struggles to hold together her household in a town on the verge of collapse.
When she was in the early stages of researching for her novel, Obreht felt drawn to her characters, yet felt that her own time and experience seemed removed from their existence. However, the more she researched and traveled through the Southwest, she began asking herself questions.
“Questions about my own mixed ethnic identity, and how it has shaped my sense of belonging (or lack thereof) and a search for home, not just as an American immigrant, but as a child of a country that no longer exists. To my surprise, this found its way to the page. Something that had felt very far afield actually became a project of enormous personal weight.”
Anticipating her return to Warwick’s, she invites readers to seek out the true story of the Camel Corps and the tales of some of the people who made the journey.
“I hope readers will find themselves turning to some of the questions that carried me along during the years I wrote ‘Inland.’ What determines whether myths live or die? What is the tension between self and history?”
Téa Obreht’s discussion of her book, “Inland,” begins at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 22, at Warwick’s, 7812 Girard Ave. Reserved seating is available when the book is pre-ordered from Warwick's for the event. Please call the Warwick's Book Department at 858-454-0347 for details.
To learn more about Obreht, visit teaobreht.com.