Perfume River

Robert Olen Butler

Published by No Exit Press in Hardback (£14.99) on 10-11-2016

BROTHERLY LOVE, FAMILY TIES AND THE LEGACY OF THE VIETNAM WAR ARE EXPLORED THROUGH A PORTRAIT OF A SINGLE NORTH FLORIDA FAMILY.

Robert Quinlan and his wife Daria teach at Florida State University. Their marriage, forged in the fervour of anti-Vietnam War protests, has become timeworn, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee, separate offices and solitary pursuits. Within his marriage, the cracks remain below the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent. He has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified.

Events over the course of one week bring the two brothers back into contact after decades. William Quinlan, Robert and Jimmy’s father, a veteran of World War II, is coming to the end of his life and aftershocks of war ripple across all their lives once again when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside.

Further tumult – caused by a disturbed homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran – turns out to have a shattering impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.

Poignant and devastating, Perfume River, is a tour de force from a Pulitzer Prize-winning author at the very height of his powers.

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