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Jonathan Evison’s ‘West of Here’ creates industry buzz

West of Here, by Bainbridge author Jonathan Evison, follows narratives from the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington.   - Courtesy Photo
West of Here, by Bainbridge author Jonathan Evison, follows narratives from the fictional town of Port Bonita, Washington.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Algonquin Books Executive Editor Chuck Adams created an audible buzz in New York City last May when he said “West of Here,” the new novel by Bainbridge Island author Jonathan Evison, was the best book he had ever worked on.

High praise from a man with 40 years in the publishing industry and a reputation for spotting (and acquiring) bestsellers, such as “Water for Elephants.”

“I call him Dad,” Evison, 42, said at the Pegasus Coffee House a few weeks before the book’s official release.

“To say that I love this book doesn’t begin to express the depth of my respect for its beauty or for the author’s accomplishments,” Adams wrote in an editor’s note, calling Evison a writer “who will become a major force in American literature.”

“That’s a lot of hyperbole,” Evison admitted. “We’ll see what happens.”

Adams may be smitten, but he’s not the only one.

Publishers Weekly, Book List and Library Journal all gave “West of Here” starred pre-publication reviews.

Thousands of independent booksellers, including Eagle Harbor Book Company, vote on favorite new titles, creating the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next List. Their No. 1 pick for February? “West of Here,” by Jonathan Evison.

The book was on its second printing before it even shipped.

Eagle Harbor Book Company didn’t need any heads up on Evison’s work. It was hand-selling his first novel, “All About Lulu,” long before it won the Washington Book Award.

“I don’t know another writer in the country, or in the world that has the kind of home-field advantage I have,” Evison said.

“They [Eagle Harbor Books] have been so completely behind me. They’re producing a beautiful limited edition boxed collector’s edition, in a cedar box with maps. They’re just an example of how a bookstore is such a part of the community.”

Morley Horder, owner of Eagle Harbor Books had never heard of Evison until he read “All About Lulu.”

“I finished it in a night or two, and it was the first time I’d really wanted to talk to the author, to shake their hand,” he said. “That’s never happened with any other book. I just got out the phone book.”

For one of the “all time favorite Bainbridge authors,” Horder decided to do something “really special.” The store is producing a limited collector’s edition of 100 signed and numbered books encased in cedar boxes.

Evison will launch his 28-city tour with stops in Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, at an Eagle Harbor Book Co. event Feb. 15.

For a profile of Evison, see the "Entertainment" section.

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