29 Apr / The Removed by Brandon Hobson [in Booklist]
A stellar #OwnVoices all-Indigenous cast gathers to heighten Brandon Hobson’s luminous follow-up to the 2018 National Book Award finalist Where the Dead Sit Walking. During the 15 years since Ray-Ray was wrongly, fatally shot by a white police officer, his surviving family has fractured. With Ray-Ray’s upcoming annual family bonfire memorial held on Cherokee National Holiday, the scattered Echotas just might reunite in their rural Quah, Oklahoma home.
Ray-Ray’s mother, Maria, made solemn with an edge of desperation by DeLanna Studi, wrestles alone as her husband, Ernest’s, Alzheimer’s worsens. Much-younger brother Edgar, addicted to meth and adroitly voiced by a restrained Shaun Taylor-Corbett, is lost somewhere in New Mexico, both hunted and haunted in the Darkening Land. Sister Sonja provides Katie Rich her audiobook debut in a firm, no-nonsense narration intensifying Sonja’s cringe-inducing affair with a younger man that implodes with shocking satisfaction.
Between Maria, Edgar, and Sonja’s chapters are Tsala’s insertions, as Gary Farmer gravely ciphers the Echota ancestor martyred before the Trail of Tears, who patiently talks-story about generations of their community. A crisp, youthful Christopher Salazar opens with a prologue-as-flashback to Ray-Ray just before his death.
Stupendously enthralling, the polyphonic production further enhances the brilliance already on the page.