BRIAN PAYTON has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe. He is the author of Shadow of the Bear: Travels in Vanishing Wilderness, which was chosen as a Barnes and Noble Book Club Pick, an NPR Pearl’s Pick, and a 2006 U.S. National Outdoor Book Awards Book of the Year. Another work of nonfiction, The Ice Passage, and a novel, Hail Mary Corner, were published to acclaim in Canada. He lives with his family in Vancouver.
THE WIND IS NOT A RIVER
Ecco – January 7, 2014
Following the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss, to document some part of the growing war that claimed his own flesh and blood. Leaving his wife, Helen, behind in Seattle, he heads to the Territory of Alaska to investigate the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government.
While accompanying a crew on a bombing run, John’s plane is shot down over the island of Attu. But surviving the crash is only the beginning of his ordeal in this harsh and unforgiving fury of a wilderness known as “the Birthplace of Winds.” In the days ahead, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own regrets while evading discovery by the Japanese.
Alone in their home 3,000 miles to the south, Helen struggles with her husband’s absence—a silence that exposes the truth of her sheltered, untested life. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is—and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she will find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows.
An evocative, richly atmospheric story of life and death, commitment and sacrifice, The Wind Is Not a River is a sweeping story of survival that illuminates the fragility of life and the fierce power of love.
Praise for THE WIND IS NOT A RIVER
BookPage Best of 2014
Amazon.ca Best Fiction of 2014
Indie Next January 2014 Selection
Indie Next Winter 2014-2015 Books For Reading Groups Selection
Amazon Editors’ Top Pick for Best Books of January 2014
Library Reads January 2014 Selection
Costco Pennie’s Pick for October 2015
“In this gripping, meditative second novel, Brian Payton explores this nearly forgotten chapter of American history.”—New York Times Book Review
“Powerful… thoughtfully conceived…The pages of this book practically turn themselves… By turns greathearted and grim, The Wind Is Not a River probes the reasons for, and the consequences of, the human practice of war…this story may haunt you long after you’ve put the book down.”—Seattle Times
“Exquisite…Impeccably researched and sensitively written…I would read anything Payton writes about landscape.”—Chicago Tribune
“Mr. Payton crafts a beautiful, heart-inspiring and heart-wrenching tale of love, forgiveness, loneliness, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of faith in God and family.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A haunting love story wrapped in an engaging and unsettling history lesson…Along the way, readers will learn not just about a fascinating and largely forgotten slice of American history, but what it felt like to live through it.“—USA Today
“This moving and powerfully written novel explores themes of war, life and death, morality, and love in a unique World War II battleground that very few people outside Alaska know about or remember…Payton…has written a suspenseful, beautifully researched title that readers will want to devour in one sitting.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“[A] top-notch WWII historical novel…Payton has delivered a richly detailed, vividly resonant chronicle of war’s effect on ordinary people’s lives.”—Publishers Weekly
“Part adventure tale, part love story, this beautifully written novel offers a moving portrait of a couple whose lives are forever changed by the only battle of WWII to take place on American soil. …Payton, in the loveliest of prose, illuminates a little-known aspect of WWII while portraying a devoted couple who bravely face down the isolation, pain, and sacrifice of wartime.”—Booklist
“What a great-hearted, beautifully written, and utterly riveting novel. It has a power that brings to mind the old Greek stories of war, love, and journey.”—Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena and Nothing Gold Can Stay
“Beautifully written, lyrical and elegiac, The Wind is a novel you must read…the battle for the Aleutians too often has been erased or forgotten and because John Easley’s struggle to survive and Helen’s struggle to find him form the most triumphant and heartbreaking love story I’ve read in years.”—David Vann, author of Legend of a Suicide and Caribou Island
“Not since Cold Mountain have I read such a brilliantly sustained metaphor for our collective guilt and grief, nor such a stirring testament to the redemptive power of love. We need this novel now.”—Wayne Grady, author of Emancipation Day
“The Wind Is Not a River is a gripping tale of one man’s battle to survive the physical elements, the tides of war, and terrifying isolation. Brian Payton gives us a compelling look at how primal, how essential, the links between lovers become when everything else is stripped away.”—Natalee Caple, author of In Calamity’s Wake
“Brian Payton’s The Wind Is Not a River is both ethereal and entrancing; once inside John Easley’s head, escape is neither easy nor safe. This book shows all too well the way isolation chews through civilization and leaves only bones.”—Russell Wangersky, author of Whirl Away and The Glass Harmonica
“Payton knows how the brutality and horror of war scar the human spirit and the power and tenderness of love sustain it. In this lyric and deeply moving novel, he connects the two with imagination and brio. The Wind Is Not a River is a heart-stopping, heart-rending read.”—Ellen Feldman, author of Scottsboro, Next to Love, and The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank
“Ambitious and earnest…Like all great novels, The Wind Is Not a River is many things at once: a mystery, a war story, a love story, and, at its core, a tale of survival.“—Amazon.com (Best Book of the Month, January 2014)
“This is sweeping epic romance, war-torn drama. Think Cold Mountain, think English Patient… Only we’re in the Second World War, and we’re in a theatre of war not only did I know nothing about, I didn’t even know existed: the Alaskan front… Brilliant… man vs. nature, beautiful descriptions of this wild, untamed landscape… poignant musings about the impact of war. Not just the loss of life, but the unquantifiable loss of the future that you should have had.”—Samantha Buckley, BBC Radio 2
“Set against a meticulously described Alaskan setting, each harrowing or quietly painful minute is portrayed in realistic detail…The book arcs poetically across the distance between Helen and John, drawing out the separation that they (and the reader) can hardly bear.”—BookPage
“…Payton seamlessly blends fact and fiction to tell the story of a lesser-known subject – the Japanese invasion of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands during World War – that’s equally as meditative and just as informed as his nonfiction…”—The Oregonian (Portland)
“A haunting love story wrapped in an engaging and unsettling history lesson…Along the way, readers will learn not just about a fascinating and largely forgotten slice of American history, but what it felt like to live through it.”—Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
“Brian Payton’s remarkable novel is a tightly wound double helix: the gripping tale of a man struggling to save his own life entwined with the heartrending tale of a woman struggling to save her marriage. As both love story and war story, it is a revelation.”—Julia Glass, National Book Award-winning author of Three Junes and The Widower’s Tale