Author(s): Stephen Markley
The critically acclaimed "remarkable debut novel...a wild, angry and devastating masterpiece of a book" (NPR) by Stephen Markley, Ohio is a lyrical, emotional, and "genuinely absorbing" (Washington Post) story set in northeastern Ohio depicting one feverish, fateful summer night when as four former classmates return to their hometown, all haunted by the ghosts of their shared histories. Since the turn of the century, a generation has come of age knowing only war, recession, political gridlock, racial hostility, and a simmering fear of environmental calamity. In the country's forgotten pockets, where foreclosures, Walmarts, and opiates riddle the land, death rates for rural whites have skyrocketed. This is the world the characters in Stephen Markley's brilliant debut novel, Ohio, inherit. This is New Canaan. On one pivotal summer night in 2013, four former classmates converge on the rust belt town where they grew up, each of them with a mission. There's Bill Ashcraft, an alcoholic, drug-abusing activist, whose fruitless ambitions have taken him from Cambodia to Zuccotti Park and now back to "The Cane" with a mysterious package strapped to the underside of his truck; Stacey Moore, a doctoral candidate reluctantly confronting her former lover's mother; Dan Eaton, a veteran of three tours in Iraq, home for a date with a woman he's tried to forget; and the beautiful, fragile Tina Ross, whose rendezvous with the captain of the football team triggers the novel's shocking climax. "[Ohio is] a descendent of the Dickensian 'social novel' by way of Jonathan Franzen: epic fiction that lays bare contemporary culture clashes, showing us who we are and how we got here" (O, the Oprah Magazine). "Markley is one of the first novelists to fully reflect the social forces at work without sacrificing an iota of character work or narrative tension" (New York magazine), and Ohio captures the fractured zeitgeist of a nation, offering a prescient vision for America at the dawn of a turbulent new age.