When Willow is born and her mother dies moments later, only the narrator of this spellbinding debut novel knows the death isn't from complications of childbirth. Amelie-Anais, buried on the Nebraska hilltop where the family home resides, tells the story of deceit, survival, and love from beyond the grave. Following Willow's life and Willow's incredible passion to paint despite loneliness, a physical handicap, and being raised by a father plagued with secrets, Amelie-Anais weaves together the lives of four enigmatic generations.
Margaret Lukas is a professor at the University of Nebraska@ Omaha. She teaches in UNO’s Creative Writing program. She received her BFA from UNO’s Writers Workshop in 2004. In 2007 Margaret received her MFA from Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. She is a contributor to NEBRASKAland magazine and an editor for the quarterly literary journal, Fine Lines. Her writing also appears online and in the 2012 anthology, On Becoming, published by the University of Nebraska Press. Her award-winning short story, “The Yellow Bird,” was made into a short film and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. She is a recipient of a 2009 Nebraska Arts Council Individual Artist fellowship. Farthest House is her first novel.
It’s hard to look at the images of what happened in Virginia and see the angry crowds of supremacists. It’s hard to believe fellow human beings can be so brainwashed, so afraid of magnificent creation, they'd view the color of a person’s skin as a reason to hate.
Jonah wrestled with the same prejudice in the 1960s, afraid to marry the love of his life because she was white. Afraid of how prejudiced against him might make her suffer rejection even bodily harm. Now over fifty years later, if he were alive to see the national news, he might wonder if anything has changed at all.
In the kitchen, Mable stood at the sink in a navy caftan and washed the last of the day’s dishes. She turned to glance with concern at the black gardener sitting at the table. She’d made him fresh coffee and set out a plate of homemade cookies, but he stared straight ahead, ignoring both. His name was Jonah, and the outside corners of his eyes, which fell when he was still a young man, now gave him the appearance of a small and forlorn basset hound. The radio was on low, and a commentator talked about the signing that day of the Civil Rights Act and how Negroes celebrated in the streets. At sixty-one, with all he’d seen in his life, Jonah scarcely cared whether or not a new law had been signed. Earlier laws hadn’t helped, and he couldn’t rid his mind of thinking about the number of lynchings there’d been in just his lifetime. Lynchings. Human beings at their most inhuman and the sight of busted up black bodies swinging. On top of that, not three days since there’d been another death in the house. Some homes went a hundred years and crumbled in on themselves and never felt death.