Elizabeth Gentry’s debut, Housebound, is a novel like no other: a disquieting and interior fairy-tale adventure through one family’s secrets and lies. Maggie, the eldest daughter, is preparing to leave the house in which she’s lived, worked, and been educated her whole life: a life led seemingly without contact with the outside world, save in the form of weekly trips to the library for the stories that are the only escape for Maggie and her eight brothers and sisters. Maggie’s seeming estrangement from the most familiar details of her life give the novel an almost Kafkaesque feel, as if Kafka had been born an Appalachian woman.
“Here, secrets crisscross through walls as through hours, and words travel in creepy, kind whispers . . . Grown children run through the woods and enter strange houses. They live over here and over there—all over the terrible and beautiful map.”—Kate Bernheimer, judge for the 2011–12 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize