Portland essayist, fiction writer, and Reed College alum Vanessa Veselka's second novel The Great Offshore Grounds was longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction this morning. She joins nine other honorees, including Harper's editor Christopher Beha, whose nominated novel The Index of Self-Destructive Acts was published by the books division of Portland-based literary institution Tin House.
The Great Offshore Grounds is a cross-country saga that follows two half-sisters from Seattle as they dig up a bevy of family secrets. From the publisher:
On the day of their estranged father's wedding, half-sisters Cheyenne and Livy set off to claim their inheritance. It's been years since the two have seen each other. Cheyenne is newly back in Seattle, crashing with Livy after a failed marriage and a series of dead ends. Livy works refinishing boats, her resentment against her free-loading sister growing as she tamps down dreams of fishing off the coast of Alaska. But the promise of a shot at financial security brings the two together to claim what's theirs. Except: instead of money, their father gives them information—a name—that both reveals a stunning family secret and compels them to come to grips with it. In the face of their new reality, the sisters and their adopted brother each set out on journeys that move from Seattle’s underground to the docks of the Far North, from the hideaways of the southern swamps to the storied reaches of the Great Offshore Grounds—journeys that will test their faith in each other, as well as their definitions of freedom.
The book—released August 25—earned high marks from the likes of the LA Times and the Seattle Times. Looking ahead, Veselka is slated to appear at Literary Arts's virtual Portland Book Festival in November.
View the full list of National Book Award nominees here.