About this Item
Quantity Available: 1
Title: The King of America (Signed First Edition)
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: 2004
Book Condition: New
Dust Jacket Condition: New
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st Edition...
About this title
The King of America traces the short, brilliant life of Stephen Hesse, firstborn son of one of America’s wealthiest, most powerful men—yet Stephen’s distinguished paternal lineage and the great privilege it has conferred on him are at odds with the working-class background of his mother. Ultimately, a scandalous divorce and the replacement of the somber, dark-eyed mother and child with a new family more becoming to Stephen’s father’s political ambition leave the young man an outsider. The sole focus of his abandoned mother, Stephen Hesse grows up lonesome and restless.
At Harvard, recovering from a failed love affair, Stephen falls under the sway of a charismatic anthropology professor and, at last, feels a sense of direction and identity. As a scholar, writer, and art collector for his father’s museum, Stephen accompanies his mentor to the impossibly strange and distant world of Netherlands New Guinea, where a Neolithic culture, still practicing its ancient rites of head-hunting, thrives in its last moments before modernity arrives. There Stephen discovers the Asmat bisj poles—terrifying, glorious, towering pieces of carved woodwork honoring tribal ancestors—which he hopes will secure his professional standing and guarantee him a lasting place in his father’s esteem. But his hardheaded insistence on securing the art before the onset of the monsoon season has tragic consequences.
Loosely based on the mysterious 1961 disappearance of Michael Rockefeller, The King of America moves seamlessly from the bastions of East Coast privilege to the tropical lushness of New Guinea. Samantha Gillison writes with the powers of observation of a naturalist and the assurance of a born novelist. Part love story, part adventure yarn, part family tragedy, The King of America is an exceptional feat of storytelling.
“Tropical heat ripples off these pages: Samantha Gillison depicts New Guinea and its indigenous people in lush, rare, passionate language. She sympathetically animates American characters no less exotic, including a troubled young anthropologist and his oil-rich family. The King of America takes us on a stirring journey to a distant land–and whose exploration leads us to the heart of human folly.”
–Ken Kalfus, author of The Commissariat of Enlightenment
“In this extraordinarly beautiful and atmospheric novel, Samantha Gillison once again displays her tremendous gifts for characterising both people and places. The King of America is an utterly absorbing portrait of both.”
"From its compelling opening to its unexpected, radiantly beautiful final scenes, this is an extraordinary novel."
–Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever, winner of the National Book Award
“This wonderful novel is set in two vastly different worlds: the America of wealth and exceptional privilege, and primitive New Guinea, where life is lived as it was a thousand years ago. At once lush and spare, The King of America is the story of a young man's desperate journey–away from his tormented relations with those closest to him and toward a truly known self–and it reminds us, exquisitely, of the pain and beauty contained in our deepest feelings for each other.”
–Ann Packer, bestselling author of The Dive From Clausen’s Pier
“In this taut, tragic, exquisitely written book, a young American journeys to a distant world which shelters him from the barbarous gentility of home. An engrossing meditation on privilege and its discontents, The King of America is a magnificent achievement.”
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