2003 National Book Award Finalist: Fiction

Marianne Wiggins

Evidence of Things Unseen

Simon & Schuster, Inc.

About the Book

From his days spent in trenches during the Great War in France, Ray "Fos" Foster had always been intrigued by light. Upon his return to the United States, Fos sets up a photography studio with his new wife, Opal. When Opal inherits land in rural Tennessee, the two relocate, but are soon forced to pick up again after the land is claimed by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1942. Fos' scientific leanings lead him to seek work at the Oak Ridge Laboratory, where the government is secretly pushing full force ahead for the construction of the atom bomb that eventually will be dropped on Hiroshima. But when Opal is struck with radiation poisoning, Fos loses his faith in science and realizes the difference between things of natural radiance and the new world of artificial suns - a realization that will ultimately come to haunt his son.

About the Author

Marianne Wiggins is the author of seven novels including Almost Heaven and John Dollar. She published her first novel, Babe, at the age of 28. She has won a Whiting Award, an NEA award, and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. The scientific information that informs Evidence of Things Unseen is entirely self-taught and the result of five years of research. Ms. Wiggins lives in Southern California.

Selected Backlist

Almost Heaven
Bet They'll Miss Us when We're Gone: Stories
Eveless Eden

Herself in Love and Other Stories
John Dollar
Separate Checks
Went South


Evidence of Things Unseen: A Novel

By Marianne Wiggins

White Sands

Somewhere in the heart of North America there is a desert where the heat of several suns has fused the particles of sand into a single sheet of glass so dazzling it sends a constant signal to the moon. On a map, this unmarked space looks like a printer’s error, an empty region on a page the cartographer forgot. One way or another each of us is drawn to this forbidden place. Like a magnet, this glass desert calls our irons the way the whale’s heart used to beckon a harpoon. In our dreams or in our fears we imagine what it must be like to walk upon this surface. We imagine we could balance there, like an angel lighting down on ice, glissade, perhaps, without cracking its thin shell with the weight of our existence. This desert’s name is Trinity. One day the sun rose twice there in a single mourning and Man saw his face reflected on the underside of Heaven. When the first atomic bomb exploded over earth that morning, the entire sky broadcast the news. Creation of the universe, that day, was reenacted. This time, God was not the only audience. If birth is fission, then the love we make is fusion; and to make an End is nothing more than to realize a Beginning. Because the end is where we start. Somewhere in the heart of North America there is a desert made of glass. Reflected in that glass there are two lovers, twinned for all eternity, the shape of all their days preserved like history’s signature in stone. The love preserved, like wings, in amber.

Photo Credit: Lara Porzak