From the author of the National Book Award longlisted epic The Great Offshore Grounds, here is the debut novel that launched her career--a story of activism, police violence, and white guilt in a not so distant dystopian America. "An ambitious encapsulation of our modern times, Zazen tackles counterculture hipsters, geology, Buddhism, consumerism, terrorism, veganism, family drama, and, above all, love. --Judges' Citation, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize
The world is on fire, and Della doesn't know what, if anything, she should do about it.
The country is poised on the brink of war. Curfews and other restrictions give the police an excuse for violence. Customers at the vaguely vegan cafe where Della is working after dropping out of grad school debate which foreign countries are the best to flee to: Costa Rica? Bali? Della's parents--former revolutionaries--are more excited at the idea of her brother and his Black wife giving them biracial grandbabies than in engaging in any new actions; her nominally activist coworkers are mostly devoted to planning a massive sex party. Della floats between them, lost and numb.
Then a bomb goes off: some shallow place of capitalistic worship demolished. Inspired, for reasons not entirely clear to herself, Della calls in a second--fake--bomb threat. But a bomb goes off there, too, and soon Della finds herself pulled in by a group of people who, for once, are promising to actually do something. No matter the consequences. Prescient when it was first published, Vanessa Veselka's debut novel is even more revolutionary now.
A VINTAGE ORIGINAL.
About the Author
Vanessa Veselka is the author of the novel The Great Offshore Grounds, which won the Oregon Book Awards' Ken Kesey Award for Fiction and was longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award and the novel Zazen, which won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Her short stories have appeared in Tin House and ZYZZYVA, and her nonfiction in GQ, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, The Atavist, and was included in Best American Essays and the anthology Bitchfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism. She has been, at various times, a teenage runaway, a sex worker, a union organizer, an independent record label owner, a train hopper, a waitress, and a mother. She lives in Portland, OR.