Author to give reading of lauded debut novel
Jan. 10, 2013
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) It’s her first book and it’s a hit. Author Amanda Coplin, a native of Wenatchee, Wash. landed on the national media radar with her acclaimed debut novel, “The Orchardist,” published last summer by HarperCollinsPublishers.
This month she is coming to La Sierra. On Jan. 30 Coplin will give a reading from “The Orchardist” at 7 p.m. at La Sierra University’s Matheson Hall. Admission is free. A book signing will follow the event.
La Sierra’s Department of English and Communication is sponsoring the event. Coplin’s appearance at the university is the result of a friendship with Sari Fordham, assistant professor of English and a graduate school colleague of Coplin’s. The duo received Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Minnesota.
Coplin’s book is set at the turn of the 20th century in orchard country abutting the Cascade Mountains. It follows the solitary life of William Talmadge, an apple and apricot orchardist who has lived alone for most of 40 years and continues to mourn the loss of his sister who as a teenager disappeared in the forest while collecting herbs. Talmadge’s quiet existence, focused on the care of his land and fruit crops, takes an unexpected and tumultuous turn when two teenage girls, pregnant and on the run from a brutal past, take refuge on his land. But violence swoops into their hiding place, leaving a wake of tragedy and a driving desire in Talmadge, who struggles with his own ghosts, to save one left from the wreckage.
“The Orchardist” is listed as one of National Public Radio’s ‘Best Book Club Reads for 2012’ and is included on its list of ‘Best Historical Fiction’ books. It also landed on the Publisher’s Weekly ‘Top 10: Literary Fiction’ of the season and was selected by O Magazine as one of the ‘10 Books to Pick Up.’ The book was briefly on the New York Times best seller list, and has been reviewed by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The New Yorker, and many other publications.
“Amanda Coplin must be a very old soul. How else to explain a 31-year-old woman of the 21st century who can so fully capture in words the look and feel of the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century?” states an NPR review.
“Many contemporary novelists have revisited the question of what constitutes a family, but few have responded in a voice as resolute and fiercely poetic,” states a New York Times Sunday Book Review.
Coplin was born in Wenatchee, Wash. and now lives in lives in Portland, Ore. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon and is a recipient of residencies from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., and the Omi International Arts Center at Ledig House in Ghent, New York.
Coplin dedicated the book, eight years in the making, to her late grandfather, Dwayne Sanders, a man who married her grandmother later in life and whom she described in an interview with The Seattle Times as “a wonderful man. He was really quiet, like Talmadge—his quietness and patience and gentleness won over the whole family.” Sanders died when Coplin was a teenager, a loss that influenced the writing of “The Orchardist.”
Coplin’s love of writing is a life-long interest that received a lot of support from family and teachers. “I really can’t remember ever wanting to be anything other than a writer. I would write stories about my family, silly stories about dreams I had,” Coplin told the Times. “It’s so important to encourage children.”