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Keesey to kick off Linfield readings with ‘Little Century’

Linfield College English Professor Anna Keesey will read from her widely acclaimed debut novel, Little Century, on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room at the Jereld R. Nicholson Library at Linfield.

The novel, which came out this summer, quickly landed on Oprah’s Top 16 Best Books for June and was also selected for The Christian Science Monitor and Vogue Magazine summer reading lists.

The coming-of-age story follows Esther, a young woman from Chicago who rides the rails west in search of her last living relative. At the urging of her older cousin, a cattleman, Esther lays claim to land outside the lawless frontier town of Century, Ore., where a bitter range war between cattle ranchers and sheepherders explodes in violence.

Esther finds her sympathies divided between a terse cattle rancher and a tender-hearted sheepherder who is a sworn enemy of local cattlemen. As her romantic feelings deepen and violence between the two groups escalates, she realizes she has to make a difficult decision, one that encompasses far more than personal passions. In this morality tale, where settlers are duped, politics are corrupted and land is stolen, the heroine develops a moral clarity that far outstrips her age.

Keesey’s novel, part feminist Western, part love story, and part coming-of-age tale, also illuminates the conflicts that have shaped and continue to shape the American West.

“In the contemporary world all kinds of resources are becoming scarce and multiple parties have legitimate claims to the same space,” Keesey said. “Water politics and heated fights over control of land characterize the West.”

Keesey is an associate professor of English at Linfield and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. She is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and her work has appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories.

The book has been published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York City.

The event, part of the Readings at the Nick series, is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Nicholson Library and the Linfield College English Department. For more information, contact Susan Barnes Whyte, director of Linfield Libraries, 503-883-2517.