The Golden State

The Golden State


by Lydia Kiesling
25 JULY 2019

Add To Cart

Pub Date: 25 July, 2019
: 304p
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781911231318

A gorgeous, raw debut novel about a young woman braving the ups and downs of motherhood in a fractured America.

In Lydia Kiesling’s razor-sharp debut novel, The Golden State, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Bucking under the weight of being a single parent – her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a ‘processing error’– Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hopes that the quiet will bring clarity.

But clarity proves elusive. Over the next ten days Daphne is anxious, she behaves a little erratically, she drinks too much. She wanders the town looking for anyone and anything to punctuate the long hours alone with the baby. Among others, she meets Cindy, a neighbour who is active in a secessionist movement, and befriends the elderly Alice, who has traveled to Altavista as she approaches the end of her life. When her relationships with these women culminate in a dangerous standoff, Daphne must reconcile her inner narrative with the reality of a deeply divided world.

Keenly observed, bristling with humour, and set against the beauty of a little-known part of California, The Golden State is about class and cultural breakdowns, and desperate attempts to bridge old and new worlds. But more than anything, it is about motherhood: its voracious worry, frequent tedium, and enthralling, wondrous love.


'In heartrending prose, Lydia Kiesling weaves through an exploration of the political and the private, fear and love, survival and obligation, loneliness and longing.' Best Books of Fall 2018, Buzzfeed

'Intimate, culturally perceptive…Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty.' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

The Golden State anchors Daphne’s journey in the visceral and material realities of motherhood…the result is less an untroubled analogy between the landscapes of motherhood and the American West than an invitation to think more deeply about how limited our canonical literary imaginings of each have been.’ Sarah Blackwood, The New Yorker

'The depictions are remarkably faithful, like a trompe l’oeil painting of a single parent’s mental state.' Wall Street Journal

'Kiesling is a talented author...with a unique voice. She’s very smart, very funny, and wonderfully empathetic...[A] skilled and promising writer.' Kirkus Reviews