A Room of One's Own is delighted to welcome UW-Madison alum Marian Palaia for a reading from her debut novel The Given World.
When Riley and her parents get the news that her big brother is missing in action in Vietnam, it blows a hole in the family bigger than any landmine could. Riley takes refuge in isolation and drugs before falling in love with a boy from the local reservation who tells her of his induction into the Army just as she discovers that, at seventeen, she is pregnant. Left behind again, Riley begins a journey that takes her to San Francisco, Saigon, the haunted tunnels of Cu Chi, and finally back to Montana. Along the way, she meets an extraordinary cast of characters-Primo, the big-hearted, half-blind vet; Lu, a cab-driving addict with an artist's eye; and Grace, a banjo-playing girl on a train carrying her grandmother's ashes-all are members of a lost generation coming of age too quickly as they struggle to put together lives interrupted by loss. In Riley, Palaia has created a masterpiece of vulnerability and tenacity, searching for her brother, for love, and for a way to trust the world again.
Marian Palaia was born in Riverside, California, and grew up there and in Washington, DC. She lives in San Francisco and has also lived in Montana, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nepal, where she was a Peace Corps volunteer. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she received the 212 Milofsky Prize. Marian has also been a truck driver, a bartender, and a logger.