News of the World: A Novel

Paperback | October 4, 2016

byPaulette Jiles

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National Book Award Finalist—Fiction

It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

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From the Publisher

National Book Award Finalist—FictionIt is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.In Wichita Falls, he is ...

From the Jacket

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd drifts through northern Texas, performing live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world—of the Irish pouring into New York City, of the railroad driving into the new state of Nebraska, of an eruption of Popocatépetl near Mexico City. An elde...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 7.38 × 5.5 × 0.56 inPublished:October 4, 2016Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062573896

ISBN - 13:9780062573896

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Customer Reviews of News of the World: A Novel

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A most poignant Western By 1870, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd spent his entire life in battle against the Indians and the Civil War. He is a widower and has left his two daughters in the south. He has become a loner and a wanderer, moving from one Texas town to the next. He discovers he can earn his way by reading stories from newspapers to folk he encounters. It won't make him rich, but he enjoys doing it. His life is turned upside down when he is hired to deliver a young ten year old that was captured by Indians four years prior and deliver her back to her family. But the child is unhappy to be pulled away from her Indian family and can no longer speak English or German. Basically, she has completely forgotten everything about the white world, from prayers to cutlery, clothing and food. Instead, she has become strong and able to make fire and cook. Most of all, she wants to return to her tribe who sold her to white settlers and who ultimately hired Kidd to take her back to her aunt and uncle. And so begins a dangerous journey, fraught with perilous people, weather, and landscape. It is this journey that draws love for the child out of Kidd's heart. This is a story of love and perseverance, and the ability to endure. Heart-wrenching, soul-stirring, and highly emotive, this book is a wonderful read. News Of The World has been selected as a National Book Award finalist. And it deserves that honor. My only comment is to forewarn readers that the author uses no quotation marks throughout the book, and this made for some uneasy reading on my part as I continually had to re-read lines and paragraphs to comprehend that it was dialogue rather than narrative. Other than that, this book was perfection!
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely loved it! Paulette Jiles' latest novel is News of the World. It's also a National Book Award finalist. 1870. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, 71 years old, earns his living travelling through Texas, reading newspaper articles to audiences in small towns. It is in one of those small towns that his friend Britt approaches him and asks him to deliver something for him. Actually it's a someone. A ten year old girl, kidnapped by the Kiowas when she was six. The family paid Britt to rescue her and deliver her back to her last living relatives. And because its the right thing to do, Kidd agrees. But Johanna has no memory of her life before the Kiowa, speaks no English and has no idea why she has been taken from her Kiowa family. It's a 400 mile trip through rough and dangerous country for an old man and a child..... Oh, my......this was such an amazing read on so many levels. Kidd is a great lead - intelligent, moral, brave, determined and steadfast. But also with an eye on the world beyond his scope. Throughout the narrative we learn more about his past and the roads he chose to take in his seventy one years. His life has been rich and full, filled with both good and bad. (Kidd is based on an actual historical figure who was a reader in Texas in the 1870's) We get short glimpses into Johanna's mind and thinking throughout the trip - her take on what is happening. She too is a strong character with the same qualities as Kidd - brave and determined. Think what she has lived through in her short ten years. But it is the burgeoning relationship between the two that had me unable to put the book down. Over the 400 miles, they face much - and share much. The relationship is built without straying into saccharine over-sentimentality. Every uncertain situation on the trip had me perched on the edge of my seat, hoping that he and Johanna make it through. But, I wondered, what would happen if they reached the end? And for answers to that question, you're going to have to pick up the book. I heartily recommend that you do. Historical fiction fascinates me. I often think that I was born into the wrong century. Jiles brings her time and setting to life with detailed description - the wagon, meals, dusty roads and small settlements, recreating the political and racial tension of the time and so much more. Jiles employs a 'no punctuation' style for her book. It only took a page or two to get used to it. And I think it was the perfect style for this book - it matches the pared down, no frills tone and tenor of both the time period and their journey. I'm always on the lookout as I read for the meaning behind the title of a book. In this case it's multi-faceted. Kidd delivers the news of the world in his reading rounds. But also the idea that we are born with a message - one that we will never know the contents of until it is delivered to the pearly gates. I finished News of the World in one evening. And thought about it long after the final page. And wondered why I haven't read Paulette Jiles before. That will be changing - I'm going to look up her backlist. News of the World - and the map that came with it - has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.
Date published: 2016-10-29

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Editorial Reviews

“This Western is not to be missed by Jiles’s fans and lovers of Texan historical fiction.”