November 12, 2022
Acclaimed author Michael Parker tells the searing and unforgettable story of one decision that irrevocably changes the course of a young man’s life.
In the early 1970s, in Stovall, Texas, seventeen-year-old Earl—a loner, dreamer, lover of music and words—meets Tina, the new girl in town. Tina convinces Earl to drive her to see her mother in Austin, where Earl and Tina are quickly separated. Two days later, Earl is being questioned by the police about Tina’s disappearance and the blood in the trunk of his car. But Earl can’t remember what happened in Austin, and with little financial support from his working-class family, he is sentenced for a crime he did not commit.
Forty years later, Earl is released into a world he can barely navigate. Settling in a small town on the Oregon coast, he attempts to establish a sense of freedom from both bars and razor wire and the emotional toll of incarceration. But just as Earl finds the rhythm he’s always sought, his past returns to endanger the new life he’s built.
Steeped in the music and atmosphere of the 1970s, I Am the Light of This World is a gritty, gripping, and gorgeously written story of loss, redemption, and the power of the imagination, perfect for fans of Ron Rash, Rachel Kushner, and Laird Hunt.
The author of seven novels and three collections of stories, Michael Parker has been awarded four career-achievement awards: the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters, the North Carolina Award for Literature, the R. Hunt Parker Award, and the 2020 Thomas Wolfe Prize. His short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Oxford American, Runner’s World, Men’s Journal, and others. He is a three-time winner of the O. Henry Prize for his short fiction and his work has appeared in dozens of magazines and several anthologies. He taught for twenty-seven years in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and since 2009 he has been on the faculty of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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