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      RUCHIKA TOMAR reads from her debut novel A PRAYER FOR TRAVELERS in Los Angeles

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      July 30, 2019

      Tuesday   7:30 PM

      1818 N Vermont Avenue
      Los Angeles, California 90027

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      RUCHIKA TOMAR reads from her debut novel A PRAYER FOR TRAVELERS

      A Prayer for Travelers (Riverhead Books)

      In her debut novel, A Prayer for Travelers, Ruchika Tomar melds artful prose with a haunting narrative creating an arresting and electric portrait of the dangers of girlhood in the American desert west and how small towns try–– and often fail–– to protect their own. Already hailed by Lit Hub as “an indelible portrait of love, grief, and trauma” and one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2019, A Prayer for Travelers illuminates the heat and fury of girlhood and one’s own memory.

      The Nevada landscape––a sun-steamed, desert West that you can practically feel blistering off the page––serves as a harsh yet glittery, gritty yet stunning backdrop for this coming-of-age saga. Cale is our guide: a young bookish loner with a voice as markedly determined as it is vulnerable. Set adrift for the first time in her life, Cale begins waitressing at the local diner, where she reconnects with Penelope Reyes, a charismatic former classmate and all-around hustler. Penny exposes Cale to the reality that exists beyond their small town and the girls become inseparable until one terrifying act of violence shatters their world. When Penny vanishes without a trace, Cale sets off on a dangerous quest across the desert to find her friend.

      Told in short, deftly interwoven chapters, the novel eases the story into a disorienting, devastating unraveling and seamlessly blends together a portrait of a memory under siege and a girl, unflinchingly, reclaiming herself. On the structure of the novel Tomar says, “I began thinking about the way I or my friends tell stories—elliptically, episodically. When you’re telling a story out loud it’s very hard to remember every detail in order. In particular, if you’ve ever had to tell a story of trauma, or hold one for one of your friends, you know just how ragged and disjointed that experience is. The nature of trauma and grief is fracturing.”

      A Prayer for Travelers is a stunning and imaginative debut that ushers in an essential new talent.

      Praise for A Prayer for Travelers

      “A Prayer for Travelers is a novel haunted by missing persons and lost souls, written in telepathic prose. Ruchika Tomar sees through walls, around corners, and into the deep heart of what matters, and moves us, the most. A beautiful debut.”—Ben Marcus

      “Sometimes characters come along that demand a new kind of novel. The young women at the center of Ruchika Tomar’s A Prayer for Travelers – elusive Penny and wounded Cale – are two spirits hitchhiking through geographies of dislocation and desire. Some chapters trot past, stealthy as high-desert coyotes, while others brushfire themselves into your mind. Moods form, visions sear, an uneasy ache prevails. The human collisions in Tomar’s novel are emotionally seismic, and they leave us haunted and unsettled.”Adam Johnson

      “A Prayer for Travelers is one of the wild books that somehow shook itself free of the usual constraints so it could go for its own deep life, a forceful, strange, indelible book I am never going to get over.”—Elizabeth Tallent

      Ruchika Tomar was raised in Southern California. She holds a BA in English literature from the University of California, Irvine, and an MFA from Columbia University. A recent Wallace Stegner Fellow, she is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.

      Photo by Dan Doperalski

      Categories: Literary & Books

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