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A Swallow Press Book

In the House of Wilderness
A Novel

By Charles Dodd White

2018 Appalachian Book of the Year, Appalachian Writers Association

“Mesmerizing … White, who lives in East Tennessee, commands an unusual level of skill and depth when writing about his characters’ relationship to the natural world.…The novel is superbly paced, its plot unfolding with mystery and suspense. From its brutal yet compassionate heart, In The House of Wilderness pulses forward with longing and danger.”

Chapter 16

In the House of Wilderness is a haunting exploration of love that alienates and the fragmentation that comes when you sacrifice pieces of yourself for the one you love.”

North Carolina Literary Review

“Novels this savage and soulful come along rarely, but In the House of Wilderness delivers both elements in spades. This book rocked me to the core. With dazzling prose and mythical characters, especially Rain, Charles Dodd White has crafted a masterpiece.”

Andrew Hilleman, author of World, Chase Me Down

“The story builds up like a finely-tuned thriller and yet White’s trademark painterly prose—precise but elaborate, lyrical but never overwrought—gives the novel a dreamlike aura. These days in which taut, direct prose is considered the gold standard, and too many authors succumb to writing what Ben Lerner called ‘very inefficient television,’ In the House of Wilderness is a reminder of the many untapped possibilities of language when explored by a master craftsman.”

Gonzalo Baeza, The Observer

Rain is a young woman under the influence of a charismatic drifter named Wolf and his other “wife,” Winter. Through months of wandering homeless through the cities, small towns, and landscape of Appalachia, the trio have grown into a kind of desperate family, a family driven by exploitation and abuse. A family that Rain must escape.

When she meets Stratton Bryant, a widower living alone in an old east Tennessee farmhouse, Rain is given the chance to see a bigger world and find herself a place within it. But Wolf will not let her part easily. When he demands loyalty and obedience, the only way out is through an episode of violence that will leave everyone involved permanently damaged.

A harrowing story of choice and sacrifice, Charles Dodd White’s In the House of Wilderness is a novel about the modern South and how we fight through hardship and grief to find a way home.

Charles Dodd White is the author of four novels, including two from Swallow Press: How Fire Runs and In the House of Wilderness. He has received the Appalachian Book of the Year Award and the Chaffin Award for his fiction. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he is an associate professor of English at Pellissippi State Community College.   More info →


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Review in North Carolina Literary Review


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Retail price: $26.95, T.
Release date: September 2018
264 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Release date: September 2018
264 pages ·
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for In the House of Wilderness

In the House of Wilderness may be Charles Dodd White’s finest achievement to date. This is a story that at once moves and lingers, well paced but dripping with the language we’ve come to expect from his pen. Line for line, White is one of the most talented writers at work in the American South.”

David Joy, Writer’s Bone

“White writes from the gritty underbelly of Appalachia, and his stories are dark and loaded in ugly truth.”

Leah Angstman, The Coil

“Such a melancholic plot requires precision and depth in order to keep the reader’s attention, and White does exactly that.…At its essence, it is a story of belonging and finding one’s place in a trying world.”

Tennessee Libraries

“Part Deliverance, part The Night of the Hunter, In the House of Wilderness includes a vibrant and oftentimes frightening cast who redefine the notion of home and home ownership. From nomadic grifters, to grieving widowers, to runaway teens, no one’s shelter is secure, not just within four walls, but within their own skins. Charles Dodd White’s prose is gorgeous and penetrating, rich in characterizations, and nature writing at its finest.”

Marie Manilla, author of Shrapnel and The Patron Saint of Ugly

“In a work that conjures the spirits of both Kent Haruf and Jim Harrison, Charles Dodd White’s In the House of Wilderness examines loyalty, exploitation, and loss in language so finely wrought that the novel eventually becomes a prose poem. Bringing together with a thriller-like intensity the themes and lyricism that have defined his early work, this book is not only beautiful, compelling, and haunting. It is necessary and important. This is what we mean when we talk about serious fiction.”

Mark Powell, author of The Sheltering and Small Treasons

“Charles Dodd White writes with grace and beauty, and In the House of Wilderness delivers with a resounding blow, as he skillfully balances that which lies beneath and that which shows its sometimes courageous and sometimes brutal face. Each sentence is a melody that carries you with care from the first word to the last.”

Michael Farris Smith, author of Desperation Road and Rivers

Praise for Charles Dodd White
“Charles Dodd White is an exceptionally talented writer, and these stories secure his place as one of Appalachia’s best short story writers. He’s the real deal.”

Ron Rash, author of The Risen (on Sinners of Sanction County)

Praise for Charles Dodd White
Sinners of Sanction County is one of the best story collections to come out of the American South in recent times. Writing in a spare, poetic style that fairly crackles with energy, Charles Dodd White makes his mark as a major new talent.”

Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time

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