cover image Zorrie


Laird Hunt. Bloomsbury, $26 (176p) ISBN 978-1-63557-536-1

Hunt (In the House in the Dark of the Woods) documents an unremarkable life in this compassionate outing. Though the elderly farmer Zorrie Underwood is in failing health and near the end of her life, she continues working the fields as she has for 50-plus years. Perseverance and an industrious acceptance of her lot are the hallmarks of orphaned Zorrie’s existence from birth, as shown by the time-jumping narrative. After the stern aunt who raised Zorrie dies in 1930, when Zorrie is 21, she takes whatever work she can find until she meets the loving elderly couple Gus and Bessie, for whom she splits and stacks wood. Her acquaintance with their upright son, Harold, who runs the family farm, evolves naturally into marriage. With Harold away during WWII, Zorrie bonds with their empathetic neighbor and farmhand, Noah, especially after Harold is killed in action, and it’s Harold’s memory that stays with her in the decades to follow. As the years progress, Gus and Bessie die, and Zorrie finds joy in a puppy, and forms a strong friendship with her neighbor Ruby. Hunt’s storytelling flows smoothly, its rhythms unperturbed by preciousness or superfluous detail. Fans of Kent Haruf’s Plainsong trilogy will love this subtle tale of rural life. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (Feb.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated a plot point and referred to the character Ruby by the wrong name.