West of Here (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Epic is far too tame a description for this ambitious novel set in a fictional Northwest town on the Olympic Peninsula.  Evison gleefully chews up the landscape from 1890 to 2006. Dreamers and drifters, entrepreneurs, scoundrels, and hardworking everyday people all had a hand in settling the Northwest.  Big trees, lots of rain, and an unparalleled lushness defined the land.  In the 1890’s the settlers had lots of beautiful blank canvas to sculpt their desires. Jagged peaked, majestic Olympic Mountains, windswept sea, deep lakes, and the roar of the rushing river, all stood splendidly untouched before them.  By 2006 the consequences of their choices were home to roost.  Evison treats his characters well, using humor and respect to drive his story forward.  He captures the landscape as only someone who loves it can understand this gorgeous wild piece of the northwest.


Evison doesn’t pretty up his characters, he lets them have plenty grit.  These are men and women who struggle to find their way, make poor choices, recover as best they can and move on with their lives.  He skillfully blends the story of the 1890’s settlers and adventurers who saw no limit to the resources and dove in with unrestrained ambition to harness the wilderness for profit and posterity with their descendants in 2006 and the consequences of all that wild enthusiasm. When Evison describes a river or a mountain valley it feels like stepping straight into the Olympics, he puts you right there.

— Deon Stonehouse

February 2011 Indie Next List

“I loved this big, gorgeous novel in which characters and story lines flow, merge, and diverge like the streams and channels of a river. The story spans more than 100 years in the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington, and its surrounding wilderness. Evison pulls together such grand themes as our relationship to the land, what we make of our past, and what we owe the future. His writing style is unpretentious and delightful, a combination of big ideas and down-to-earth, friendly delivery that's perfectly suited to this quintessentially American novel.”
— Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop &, Mendocino, CA


At the foot of the Elwha River, the muddy outpost of Port Bonita is about to boom, fueled by a ragtag band of dizzyingly disparate men and women unified only in their visions of a more prosperous future. A failed accountant by the name of Ethan Thornburgh has just arrived in Port Bonita to reclaim the woman he loves and start a family. Ethan’s obsession with a brighter future impels the damming of the mighty Elwha to harness its power and put Port Bonita on the map.

More than a century later, his great-great grandson, a middle manager at a failing fish- packing plant, is destined to oversee the undoing of that vision, as the great Thornburgh dam is marked for demolition, having blocked the very lifeline that could have sustained the town. West of Here is a grand and playful odyssey, a multilayered saga of destiny and greed, adventure and passion, that chronicles the life of one small town, turning America’s history into myth, and myth into a nation’s shared experience.

About the Author

Jonathan Evison is the author of four previous novels, including All About LuluWest of HereThe Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, and This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! He lives with his wife and family in Washington State.

Praise For…

A "booming, bighearted epic." --Vanity Fair

— Booklist

"A big novel about the discovery and rediscovery of nature, starting over, and the sometimes piercing reverberations of history, this is a damn fine book." --Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Evison switches easily between 19th-century vernacular and contemporary lingo, and the tenderly funny result is both pioneer story and social commentary. You'll want to reread it to catch cross-references between the parallel stories." --American Way

"Evison, author of this audacious historical novel, manages a near-impossible feat: first, he creates an almost absurdly complex narrative structure, bridging more than 100 years of life in Washington State and encompassing multiple points of view, and then he grounds the sublime architechtonic whole in the vividly realized daily lives of characters who exist completely in their individual moments but whose actions reverberate back and forth across time . . . [This] is a testament to the books' greatness." --Booklist, starred review

“An enjoyable, meaty read—a vision of a place told through the people who find themselves at the edge of America’s idea of itself.” —Los Angeles Times

“[A] booming, bighearted epic.” —Vanity Fair

“[A] booming, bighearted epic.” —Vanity Fair

“Riotously funny . . . Wonderfully charming.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Riotously funny . . . Wonderfully charming.”
The New York Times Book Review

“[A] big, booming ruckus of a novel . . . Evison [is] a tremendously gifted storyteller.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“[A] big, booming ruckus of a novel . . . Evison [is] a tremendously gifted storyteller.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“Evison gives us a jaunty, rain-slicked quest story . . . Its ending is clever and satisfying, and its arrival could signal the breakout of a promising career.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Product Details
ISBN: 9781565129528
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: February 15th, 2011
Pages: 496