Charis welcomes Brandon Hobson in conversation with Holiday Simmons for a celebration of Hobson's highly anticipated novel, The Removed.
Steeped in Cherokee myths and history, a novel about a fractured family reckoning with the tragic death of their son long ago—from National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson
In the fifteen years since their teenage son, Ray-Ray, was killed in a police shooting, the Echota family has been suspended in private grief. The mother, Maria, increasingly struggles to manage the onset of Alzheimer’s in her husband, Ernest. Their adult daughter, Sonja, leads a life of solitude, punctuated only by spells of dizzying romantic obsession. And their son, Edgar, fled home long ago, turning to drugs to mute his feelings of alienation.
With the family’s annual bonfire approaching—an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death, and a rare moment in which they openly talk about his memory—Maria attempts to call the family together from their physical and emotional distances once more. But as the bonfire draws near, each of them feels a strange blurring of the boundary between normal life and the spirit world. Maria and Ernest take in a foster child who seems to almost miraculously keep Ernest’s mental fog at bay. Sonja becomes dangerously fixated on a man named Vin, despite—or perhaps because of—his ties to tragedy in her lifetime and lifetimes before. And in the wake of a suicide attempt, Edgar finds himself in the mysterious Darkening Land: a place between the living and the dead, where old atrocities echo.
Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, The Removed seamlessly blends the real and spiritual to excavate the deep reverberations of trauma—a meditation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on both a personal and ancestral level.
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Brandon Hobson is the author of the novel Where the Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction and winner of the Reading the West Book Award. His other books include Desolation of Avenues Untold and the novella Deep Ellum. His work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology, The Believer, the Paris Review Daily, Conjunctions, NOON, and McSweeney’s, among other places. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at New Mexico State University and teaches in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.
Holiday Simmons is the founder and Lead Practitioner of Southern Soul Wellness, a holistic mental health and spiritual wellness practice for the liberation of mind, body, community, and planet Earth. He is also the Director of Healing and Resilience at the Campaign for Southern Equality, and is a consultant with Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM). Holiday is a Black Cherokee transmasculine earth-bottom that makes his home in Atlanta, GA, and finds beauty in soccer, the ocean, and hugging moments of liberation.
“A haunted work, full of voices old and new. It is about a family’s reckoning with loss and injustice, and it is about a people trying for the same. The journey of this family’s way home is full—in equal measure—of melancholy and love.”
—Tommy Orange, author of There There
2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FICTION FINALIST
Set in rural Oklahoma during the late 1980s, Where the Dead Sit Talking is a stunning and lyrical Native American coming-of-age story.
Fiction. DEEP ELLUM is a novel of beauty and power, about family and transcending family, lives unwinding even as they tangle together. Brandon Hobson writes luminescent prose of hard-edged, quiet intensity. His narrator owns a voice at once mysterious and intimate, like a long-lost, slightly suspect friend returning to tell you how the world really is.