National Book Award Finalist—Fiction
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
By 1870, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd spent his entire life in battle against the Indians and the Civil War. He is a widower and has left his two daughters in the south. He has become a loner and a wanderer, moving from one Texas town to the next. He discovers he can earn his way by reading stories from newspapers to folk he encounters. It won't make him rich, but he enjoys doing it.
His life is turned upside down when he is hired to deliver a young ten year old that was captured by Indians four years prior and deliver her back to her family. But the child is unhappy to be pulled away from her Indian family and can no longer speak English or German. Basically, she has completely forgotten everything about the white world, from prayers to cutlery, clothing and food. Instead, she has become strong and able to make fire and cook. Most of all, she wants to return to her tribe who sold her to white settlers and who ultimately hired Kidd to take her back to her aunt and uncle.
And so begins a dangerous journey, fraught with perilous people, weather, and landscape. It is this journey that draws love for the child out of Kidd's heart. This is a story of love and perseverance, and the ability to endure. Heart-wrenching, soul-stirring, and highly emotive, this book is a wonderful read.
News Of The World has been selected as a National Book Award finalist. And it deserves that honor. My only comment is to forewarn readers that the author uses no quotation marks throughout the book, and this made for some uneasy reading on my part as I continually had to re-read lines and paragraphs to comprehend that it was dialogue rather than narrative. Other than that, this book was perfection!