Fire Exit: A Novel (Hardcover)

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If you liked Night of the Living Rez, you have to read Talty’s debut novel Fire Exit. The story follows Charles, a recovering alcoholic trying to make amends with those from his past. He lives on the river across from Maine’s Penobscot Reservation and his daughter Elizabeth; but she doesn’t know this. When Elizabeth mysteriously disappears, Charles begins sinking deep into his memories and the hauntings of his past–questioning if he should reveal the secret he’s kept for so long about Elizabeth and the trajectory of his life if he had revealed it sooner. What do we owe to others? What does inheritance mean in this modern America that respects certain cultures and traditions over others? Talty grapples with these questions in such a profound and unprecedented way in this book. It’s incredible.
— From Natalie's Picks

June 2024 Indie Next List

“A gorgeous and all-consuming novel, Fire Exit lays bare the consequences of one man’s decisions, and his resolve to reconcile his past by taking care of his aging mother and seeking a connection with his unknown daughter. Unforgettable.”
— Olivia Marchese, Author's Note, Medina, NY


“Utterly consuming. . . . Fire Exit absolutely smolders.”—Tommy Orange

 The blood that came out of me was blood that ran through her veins. It’s strange: all bloodlooks the same, yet it’s different, we’re told, in so many various ways and for so many various reasons. But one thing is for certain, I thought: you are who you are, even if you don’t know it.

From the porch of his home, Charles Lamosway has watched the life he might have had unfold across the river on Maine’s Penobscot Reservation. On the far bank, he caught brief moments of his neighbor Elizabeth’s life—from the day she came home from the hospital to her early twenties. But there’s always been something deeper and more dangerous than the river that divides him from her and the rest of the tribal community. It’s the secret that Elizabeth is his daughter, a secret Charles is no longer willing to keep.

Now, it’s been weeks since he’s seen Elizabeth, and Charles is worried. As he attempts to hold on to and care for what he can—his home and property; his alcoholic, quick-tempered, and bighearted friend Bobby; and his mother, Louise, who is slipping ever deeper into dementia—

he becomes increasingly haunted by his past. Forced to confront a lost childhood on the reservation, a love affair cut short, and the death of his beloved stepfather, Fredrick, in a hunting accident—a death he and Louise are at odds over as to where to lay blame—Charles contends with questions he’s long been afraid to ask. Is his secret about Elizabeth his to share? And would his daughter want to know the truth, even if it could cost her everything she’s ever known?

From the award-winning author of Night of the Living Rez, Morgan Talty’s debut novel, Fire Exit, is a masterful and unforgettable story of family, legacy, bloodlines, culture and inheritance, and what, if anything, we owe one another.

About the Author

Morgan Talty is a citizen of the Penobscot Indian Nation. His debut short story collection, Night of the Living Rez, won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the New England Book Award, the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Honor, and was a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award, and The Story Prize. His writing has appeared in The Georgia Review, Granta, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, Narrative, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. Talty is an assistant professor of English in Creative Writing and Native American and Contemporary Literature at the University of Maine, Orono, and he is on the faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing as well as the Institute of American Indian Arts. He lives in Levant, Maine.

Praise For…

In this deliberately paced, moody novel, Talty, himself a citizen of the Penobscot Nation, considers questions of identity.
— Kirkus Reviews

Tender and heartbreaking. . . . sweetened with touches of humor, the novel raises important questions about human connection and belonging.
— Booklist, Starred Review

Absolutely soars. . . . you will come out of this book better than you were going in.
— Barnes & Noble, A Most Anticipated Debut of 2024

Utterly absorbing. . . .  compassionately addresses tough choices in matters of family and love.
— Shelf Awareness

Utterly consuming. With Talty’s subtle charm and crystalline prose. . . . Fire Exit absolutely smolders.

— Tommy Orange

Gorgeous. . . . I loved it.
— Brandon Taylor

Talty’s writing is a gift of many lifetimes.

— Karen Russell
Product Details
ISBN: 9781959030553
ISBN-10: 1959030558
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication Date: June 4th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English