Nell Zink — 2022
A profound and singular story about a young woman searching for her place in the world, from one of America’s most original voices—the irresistible story of one teenager’s reckoning with society at large and her search for a personal utopia. Bran’s Southern California upbringing is anything but traditional. After her mother joins a Buddhist colony, Bran is raised by her “common-law stepfather” on Bourdon Farms—a plant nursery that doubles as a cover for a biker gang. She spends her days tending plants, slogging through high school, and imagining what life could be if she had been born to a different family. And then she meets Peter, a beautiful, troubled, and charming train wreck of a college student from the East Coast, who launches his teaching career by initiating her into the world of literature and aesthetics. As the two begin a volatile and ostensibly doomed long-distance relationship, Bran searches for meaning in her own surroundings—attending disastrous dance recitals, house-sitting for strangers, and writing scripts for student films. She knows how to survive, but her happiness depends on learning to call the shots. Exceedingly rich, ecstatically dark, and delivered with masterful humor, Avalon is a poignant portrait of a young woman who, against all odds, is determined to find her place in the world and find clarity in its remote corners.