Jessie van Eerden
The members of Dunlap Fellowship of All Things in Common share everything from their meager incomes to the only functioning toilet in the community house—everything, that is, except secrets. When Omi Ruth Wincott, the youngest member of the disintegrating common-purse community in this small Indiana town, loses her only brother, Woodrun, she withdraws from everyone and fixates on a secret desire: she wishes only for an extravagant headstone to mark Woodrun’s grave, an expense that the strict, parsimonious community can’t—or won’t—pay for. In her loneliness, Omi Ruth’s only ties to the world remain her National Geographic magazines and a new resident in the house, Northrop, an old man caught between living and dying, maintained in a vegetative state by hospice care.
Observing everything with the keen eye of a girl with a photographic memory, Omi Ruth finds herself learning to grieve in the company of unlikely strangers. With the help of a homeless and pregnant Tracie Casteel, a rebellious Amish boy named Spencer Frye, and the smooth-talking Vaughn Buey who works third shift at Dunlap’s RV plant, Omi Ruth discovers that there are two things of which there is no shortage in the world’s common purse—love and loss.
Quiet Terrors of the Body
My Radio Radio
Diving for Abalone
Today I Am Asma
Dark Before It’s Dark
Jessie van Eerden holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa. Her debut novel Glorybound won Foreword Reviews' fiction prize. Her work has appeared in The Oxford American, Bellingham Review, Best American Spiritual Writing, and other publications. She directs the low-residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Learn more at jessievaneerden.com.
"There are few contemporary novels that I truly admire. Van Eerden’s novel rises to the top of my list."
"A book of surprises—surprises that emanate not so much from dramatic action but as a rich consequence of the crafting of character through language. Page after page, the reader is treated to beautifully cadenced, strikingly voiced observations and reflections that shape the poetic sensibility of the coming-of-age narrator, Omi Ruth. The reader reads and keeps reading for the wonder of Omi Ruth’s utterances, for her quirky and tender insights."
"It’s rare to fall for a voice, to want nothing more than just to listen. So I finished Jessie van Eerden’s My Radio Radio feeling something like grief, lovelorn, my heart captive to the voice of Omi Ruth, a girl who sees the world so fresh she makes it new."
"Reading My Radio Radio is like swimming under the luminous skin of life, above us ghostly insights come and go, below us the deep unknown threatens, and then we poke through pores of enlightenment and recognize things hidden since the foundation of the world. Jessie van Eerden is a writer that makes it seem the rest of us are merely scratching the surface."
"My Radio Radio will tune you in from the beginning and leave you wanting more by the end. Jessie van Eerden is at her tender and lyrical best in this story of longing and belonging. Her young narrator, Naomi Ruth, is a kissing cousin to Ellen Foster but finally in a league and family of her own. Welcome her with open arms."