The three linked novellas that comprise National Book Award “5 Under 35” and Fulbright winner Josh Weil’s masterful debut bring us into America’s remote and often unforgiving backcountry, and delicately open up the private worlds of three very different men as they confront love, loss, and their own personal demons.
Set in the hardscrabble hill country between West Virginia and Virginia, The New Valley
is populated by characters striving to forge new independent lives in the absence of those they have loved. Told in three varied and distinct voices from a soft-spoken middle-aged beef farmer struggling to hold himself together after his dad’s suicide; to a health-obsessed single father desperate to control his reckless, overweight daughter; to a mildly retarded man who falls in love with a married woman intent on using him in a scheme that will wound them both each novella is a vivid, stand-alone examination of Weil’s uniquely romanticized relationships. As the men battle against grief and solitude, their heartache slowly leads them all to commit acts that will bring both ruin and salvation.
Written with a deeply American tone, focused attention to story, and veneration for character, The New Valley
is a tender exploration of resilience, isolation, and the deep, consuming ache for human connection. Weil’s empathetic, meticulous prose makes this is a debut of inescapable power.