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Distributed for New Issues Poetry & Prose

The Golden Land

Winner of the AWP Prize for the Novel, this debut novel digs deep into the complexities of family history and relationships. 

When Etta's grandmother dies, she is compelled to travel to Myanmar to explore complicated adolescent memories of her grandmother's family and the violence she witnessed there. Full of rich detail and complex relationships, The Golden Land explores those personal narratives that might lie beneath the surface of historical accounts.

350 pages | 5 x 8 | © 2022

AWP Award Series for the Novel


History: Asian History

Travel and Tourism: Tourism and History

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"A heartfelt exploration of the ties of family, The Golden Land is an engrossing tale told across generations with the explosive history of Myanmar as its backdrop. Elizabeth Shick has written a compelling, emotionally complex novel that explores the difficulties of defining oneself amid the struggle of competing cultures. This is a timely, necessary book."

Sabina Murray, author of The Human Zoo and Valiant Gentlemen

“Elizabeth Shick’s steady, elegant prose transported me to a place I knew little about, and I found myself wanting to learn more about this turbulent period in Myanmar’s history. The Golden Land is both a rich and intimate family portrait as well as a portal leading into another world, relevant and important to where we are in our own country today.”

Mira T. Lee, author of Everything Here is Beautiful

The Golden Land is a gorgeous and moving novel about one young woman’s journey to Myanmar, where her family’s stay with their relatives, nearly 25 years ago, was cut short by political unrest. The novel immerses us in the Burma of 1988 and the Myanmar of 2011; both places are fraught with great beauty and suffering. Through the main character’s journey, we learn the difference between “adapting and accepting, between carrying on and forgetting” and find hope in the paradox that love is always tangled with disappointment, democracy doesn’t preclude loneliness and suffering, and yet trusting people we love is as natural and inevitable as breathing. This is a remarkable novel, at once informative and deeply felt.”

Kyoko Mori, author of Yarn: Remembering the Way Home

The Golden Land moves back and forth in time, evoking present-day Myanmar’s indeed golden past when Burma, and capturing its perilous political moment, while also uncovering a Burmese-American family’s interwoven secrets, layer upon layer, one revelation leading to the next with poignant logic and a gathering momentum. Elizabeth Shick tells this story with flawless authority, giving us a rich, ever-beckoning novel that’s historically sure, culturally acute, and, most of all, humanly wise as it asks how much of where we came from do we need to hold close, and how much can’t we shed, however urgently we wish to.”

Douglas Bauer, author of The Beckoning World

“Like the Burmese puppeteer whose marionettes dance within this novel, Elizabeth Shick knows how seeming opposites are actually tied together: jiggle the past, and the future tilts; touch regret, touch loss, and set in motion love or liberation. Balancing the personal with the political, and showing romance side by side with a blood-soaked reality, this engrossing story is about the difficult necessity of revisiting trauma. The Golden Land radiates with cultural empathy, a glow that might light a path toward justice.”

Michael Lowenthal, author of Charity Girl

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