Twenty-two-year-old Galen is a New Age believer on a warpath towards transcendence. He lives with his emotionally dependent mother in a secluded house, surviving on old family money that his Aunt Helen and cousin Jennifer are determined to get their hands on. Galen doesn’t know who his father is, his abusive grandfather is dead, and his grandmother is losing her memory. When the family takes a trip to an old cabin in the Sierras, tensions crescendo. Caught in a compromising position, Galen will discover the shocking truth of just how far he will go to attain what it is he craves.
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Vann’s gift – his quest, almost – is a willingness to explore the unimaginable, the unthinkable, on the page. He is the real thing – a mature, risk-taking and fantastically adept fiction writer who dares go to the darkest places, explore their most appalling corners.I haven’t read a novel as rough and shocking or, importantly, as wise and warm as this one in a long time. - Observer
Vann’s rendering of the everyday gratings of family life is pitch-perfect ... A well-written, unflinching exploration of the often terrifying chasm between who we want to be, and who we actually are. - Sunday Telegraph
Vann is a brave writer, daring to write about and depict things that most other authors would baulk at, but that’s what makes him so good – that unflinching eye for the darkness you could potentially find in any of us, given the wrong chain of events ...If you want the naked, awful truth, then dive in. - Independent on Sunday
This is a novel of violence, destruction and ruin. There is no salvation. And yet Mr Vann’s soaring writing carries it forward – a reminder of the beauty that can grace even the beastliest things. - The Economist
Unputdownable, thundering at breathtaking speed towards the shocking climactic act. Brilliantly chilling. - Evening Standard
The characters in Dirt read as archetypes, figures in a Beckett play …The last pages of Dirt are lit by a berserk energy. It’s as if Vann has pulled off the trick of putting us inside a Hitchcock maniac … When you finally put this book down, break the spell and walk away, you’re left with a deeper resonance, a lingering sadness. - Financial Times
Uncompromisingly direct. - Guardian
Another dispatch from dysfunctional suburbia by one of the US’s hottest writers…A morbid fascination with the family’s eye-poppingly vicious interactions keeps you turning the pages…It’s hard to forget. - Metro
David Vann has a talent for being able to pack a lot into very few words - and to make them all effective and forceful. ...compelling. If I start reading Vann I know that I'm going to have to keep reading no matter how painful, how distressing the story...what marks this book out as being something special is the forensic examination of the tipping point at which a disturbed mind, an unfocused mind tumbles into madness. - The Bookbag
A powerful story of a family on the verge of imploding, David Vann's novel might not be an easy read - but it is, undoubtedly, a book you will want to devour in a single sitting. - stylist.co.uk
Dirt’s basic set-up , a lone parent and a child locked together in unhealthy co-dependency, is reminiscent of southern tales by Flannery O’Connor, John Kennedy Toole and Tennessee Williams. And while Galen’s religious obsessions align Dirt more with O’Connor or Toole, it’s Williams’s world that the novel is otherwise closest to: the unforgiving, brain-invading heat; the incessant family squabbling; the autocratic patriarch (dead, but still looming in this case); the over-devoted mother; the furtive, incest-like relationship; and the failed, trapped central character, nevertheless convinced of his special gifts and destiny. - Literary Review
What Vann does so well is to take recognisably ordinary characters and put them in critical situations, where tiny decisions or actions have life-altering outcomes. This is what gives his books their nightmarish quality -- the feeling that these events could happen to anyone. - Irish Independent
I found it impossible to put down. I read it over a couple of rushed afternoons and found myself gasping for air…Days later I still couldn’t get Galen’s voice – that distinctive blend of mocking, vulnerable and cruel – out of my head…It [Dirt] is both brilliant and painful; comic and disturbing; full of despair about humanity and moments of warmth; deranged and beautifully executed. - Sunday Business Post
Vann's writing is vivid and shocking, and his imagination is extraordinary. - Saga
Vann presents us with a pitch perfect rendering of the everyday problems of family life, while simultaneously depicting an outlandish and horrifying battle between son, mother and aunt. - Daily Telegraph
David Vann was born in the Aleutian Islands and spent his childhood in Ketchikan, Alaska. His first book of fiction, the international bestseller Legend of a Suicide, has now been translated into seventeen languages and has won several prizes, including the Prix Medicis Etranger in France. His novel Caribou Island is an international bestseller. He is also the author of two bestselling non-fiction books, and has written for Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, the Sunday Times, Guardian, Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times and other magazines and newspapers. A current Guggenheim fellow and former Wallace Stegner fellow, he is currently a professor at the University of San Francisco.