Winner of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, Mary Clearman Blew is back with a new kind of Western story in her novel, Sweep Out the Ashes (Bison Books, 2019). Set in 1970s Verailles, Montana, it reveals that what we are taught growing up is not always the whole truth.
“Sweep Out the Ashes ingeniously weaves surprising narrative strands into a single powerhouse story,” said David Huddle, author of The Faulkes Chronicle and My Immaculate Assassin. “It’s a brand-new kind of western novel, and if ever there was a serious page-turner, it’s this book.”
Teaching college history in remote northern Montana offers main character Diana Karnov the opportunity to put distance between herself and her overbearing great-aunts and to uncover information about her parents. At first overwhelmed by the brutal winter, Diana throws herself into exploring mysteries her aunts refuse to explain. Eventually, she befriends several locals whose own heritage reveal enormous gaps in her historical knowledge. Astounded, Diana begins to understand that American narratives and the capacity for women to work and learn is not as set and certain as she was taught.
“Sweep Out the Ashes is a poignant and often funny portrayal of ignorance and growth,” said Kent Meyers, author of Twisted Tree. “Blew invites readers to discover that this conglomeration of people we call a nation is far richer than we thought, and maybe more promising.”
Blew is the author and editor of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including Ruby Dreams of Janis Joplin (Nebraska, 2018), Jackalope Dreams (Bison Books, 2008), and the memoir This Is Not the Ivy League (Nebraska, 2011). Among numerous awards, she was awarded the Western Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004.
Sweep Out the Ashes is available now wherever books are sold.