You are here
Sun House: A Novel (Hardcover)
An epic comedy about the quest for transcendence in an anything-but-transcendent America, set amid the gorgeous landscapes of the American west: A “spiritual journey” full of “fun, joy, love, courage and compassion” (Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Powers) from the author of the perennial cult bestsellers The River Why and The Brothers K.
A random bolt from a DC-8 falls from the sky, killing a child and throwing the faith of a young Jesuit Jesuit into crisis. A boy’s mother dies on his fifth birthday, sparking a lifetime of repressed anger that he unleashes once a year in reckless duels with the Fate, God, or Power who let the coincidence happen. A young woman on a run in Seattle experiences a shooting star moment that pierces her with a love that will eventually help heal the Jesuit, the angry young man, and innumerable others.
The journeys of this unintentional menagerie carry them to the healing lands of Montana and a newly founded community—where nothing tastes better than Maker's Mark mixed with glacier ice, and nothing seems less likely than the soul-filling delight a troupe of spiritual refugees, urban sophisticates, road-weary musicians, and local cowboys begin to find in each other's company.
With Sun House, David James Duncan continues exploring the American search for meaning and love that he began in his acclaimed novels The River Why and The Brothers K.
About the Author
David James Duncan is the author of the novels The River Why and The Brothers K, the story collection River Teeth, and the nonfiction collections My Story as Told by Water (a National Book Award finalist), and God Laughs & Plays. His work has won three Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, two Pushcart Prizes, a Lannan Fellowship, the Western States Book Award, inclusion in Best American Sports Writing, Best American Catholic Writing, two volumes of Best American Essays, five volumes of Best American Spiritual Writing, an honorary doctorate from University of Portland, the American Library Association's 2004 Award for the Preservation of Intellectual Freedom (with co-author Wendell Berry), and other honors. David lives on a charming little trout stream in Missoula, Montana, in accord with his late friend Jim Harrison’s advice to finish his life disguised as a creek.
"One of the greatest imaginative achievements I’ve encountered in a lifetime of reading--brimming with invention, mirth, and wisdom. It transports us into a world more radiant and vivid than this one, or rather one just as radiant and vivid, if only we attended to it with the heightened awareness it urges us to cultivate."—WILLIAM DEBUYS, author of The Trail to Kanjiroba: Rediscovering Earth in an Age of Loss
"This is a classic epic novel with 21st century humor and timeless spirituality. I laughed so much and cried just as often. It’s sexy, politically astute, visionary, and bold. I love this novel. I love David. Read it now."—SHERMAN ALEXIE, author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
"Sun House is a book of healing that will earn a place on the shelf between the world’s ancient wisdom texts and Mark Twain...Here is a book like nothing I have ever read, an epic story about how we may be made whole in a broken time."—KATHLEEN DEAN MOORE, author of Earth's Wild Music
“Like all truly extraordinary novels, the luminous Sun House is not a mere book, but a singular world in which the reader comes to reside, and to feel more alive. Told in rollicking prose laced with ab-tightening humor and high-lonesome lyricism, this immersive, sweeping tale locates the grand in the smallest particulars, and reaches its heights only after traversing the wild and sometimes steep country of the heart. To open the door to Duncan’s long-awaited masterwork is to be flooded with light and loss, and to find, ultimately, hard-won hope.”—CHRIS DOMBROWSKI, author of The River You Touch
“Reading Sun House is like watching dawn in the high country. A clear, eastern light gains strength as the story unfolds, revealing a landscape as vast and gorgeous as any mountain range at daybreak. On this bright stage, David James Duncan’s unlikely, perfectly-wrought, beloved characters perform a miracle: From ragged strands of tragedy and epiphany, they weave the fabric of a more openhearted world.”—BRYCE ANDREWS, author of Holding Fire: A Reckoning with the American West
“There are books that make you a happy insomniac and Sun House is absolutely one of them, like Quixote or Moby or Copperfield, the kind when you wake at three in the morning you remember that beside the bed is a thousand-room mansion of a novel, where every door opens to unexpected weather and a keen sense of appetite. Here is the best part: while these characters come in all shades of funny and searching and rueful and indignant, they are all right there and as wide awake as you are. A new big book from David James Duncan? This is a lucky time to be a reader.”—LEIF ENGER, author of Peace Like a River
"Jim Harrison meets Robert M. Pirsig, Timothy Leary, and the Dalai Lama in Duncan’s long-awaited follow-up to The River Why (1983) and The Brothers K (1992)...arch and bookish (Gary Snyder makes a cameo appearance), [Sun House] will prove captivating to those who enjoy novels of ideas—in this case, one that modernizes the Western by injecting it with ethnic diversity and doses of philosophy (and LSD, even)...a book by a first-rate writer and one to be savored."—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
"Sun House is a cathedral, a high-domed room of stories the reader enters and never fully leaves...a profound gift to readers (like me) who hunger for the insights of ancient texts but lack the appetite to read them on my own."—HANK LENTFER, author of Raven’s Witness and Faith of Cranes
“Asian wisdom traditions and an Emersonian reverence for what can be learned from nature have always suffused Duncan’s work, but in Sun House they are front and center on nearly every page.”—John Williams, The Washington Post
“The time, energy, focus, precision, invention, scholarship, fun, joy, love, courage and compassion that went into making this novel boggle my mind…Just contemplating its creation is something of a spiritual journey in itself. Finding this kind of expansive refreshment at this most narrow-minded moment in history is a gift.”—RICHARD POWERS for The Washington Post
"[Sun House] feels both capacious and tightly packed, as musical and shimmering as its title suggests. It is the product of long workdays, seismic struggles both personal and global — and a level of compassion and spirituality that transcends all of it."—Maggie Neal Doherty, Los Angeles Times
"[Sun House] takes as many turns as Missoula’s Rattlesnake Creek, all the while celebrating the extraordinary power of community."—Debra Magpie Earling, The New York Times
"Set within a hauntingly beautiful landscape, Sun House presents a rare version of the American West, one teeming with mysticism, yearning, and compassion."—Alta
“Duncan’s sprawling new novel blends frustration with the divine, strange moments of random chance and the search for community. It’s an epic read to tackle as the summer starts to wind down.”—Tobias Carroll, Inside Hook
"Sun House is a voluminous chronicle of a specific time in American history . . . As is the trademark of his fiction, Duncan’s spotlight shines brightest on the in-betweens and exceptions in religious tradition, the cracks."—Jessie van Eerden, Commonweal Magazine
"[Sun House is] a cosmic trip that braids together a dozen lives that cross and gurgle like the fictional Elkmoon River."—Outside, Best Books of Fall
"Reading [Sun House] is to fall in love with its myriad characters as they move through their own versions of walking a spiritual path. It’s a rare novel that can hold up under the sheer weight of so many fully drawn and endlessly fascinating characters. Sun House doesn’t just hold the weight, it floats and even soars with it."—Marc Beaudin, Big Sky Journal
"[Sun House] is what might colloquially be called a yarn. Like the best-told folk tales in every culture, the story is an adventure, a comedy and what could be called a teaching moment. Indeed, a moment we can all learn from."—Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch
“Sun House quickly envelopes readers in language that offers up new ways of thinking. There’s an honorable gentleness in the characters that engenders a longing to understand our fellow humans...The novel creates an immersive experience with its thin, Bible-like pages and various font treatments that indicate journal entries and dream sequences, different tones of voice, and winding narration, which makes reading feel akin to following a snaking river."—Anna Paige, MONTANA FREE PRESS