Honoree, 5 Under 35 2012

Claire Vaye Watkins book cover
ISBN 9781594488252
Riverhead Books
claire vaye watkins author photo
Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins was born in Death Valley and raised in the Mojave Desert. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Best of the West 2011, and elsewhere. More about this author >

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Like the work of Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Richard Ford, and Annie Proulx, Battleborn represents a near-perfect confluence of sensibility and setting, and the introduction of an exceptionally powerful and original literary voice. In each of these ten unforgettable stories, Claire Vaye Watkins writes her way fearlessly into the mythology of the American West, utterly reimagining it. Her characters orbit around the region’s vast spaces, winning redemption despite – and often because of – the hardship and violence they endure. The arrival of a foreigner transforms the exchange of eroticism and emotion at a prostitution ranch. A prospecting hermit discovers the limits of his rugged individualism when he tries to rescue an abused teenager. Decades after she led her best friend into a degrading encounter in a Vegas hotel room, a woman feels the aftershock. Most bravely of all, Watkins takes on – and reinvents – her own troubled legacy in a story that emerges from the mayhem and destruction of Helter Skelter. Arcing from the sweeping and sublime to the minute and personal, from Gold Rush to ghost town to desert to brothel, the collection echoes not only in its title but also in its fierce, undefeated spirit the motto of her home state.


Claire Vaye Watkins at the 2012 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Celebration

2012 5 Under 35 Panel Discussion (part 1 of 2)

2012 5 Under 35 Panel Discussion (part 2 of 2)