The Field is White: A Novel by Claire Åkebrand
John Eliason is a young Mormon missionary from Alberta about to return home after two years in Sweden. When his only convert dies, John's last duty is to visit the estranged family to make funeral arrangements. As the snow strands him in the countryside, tensions rise and family secrets are uncovered.
The story unfolds through letters, journal entries, flashbacks, and fragmented ruminations. It is a love note to people outside of their cultural comfort zones, to failed poets, and to silence.
"In this exquisite first novel, Claire Akebrand makes the domestic exotic through exact observation. Her particular vision of this protagonist—an off-the-rails Mormon missionary—and this place—a snowbound house outside a Swedish village, filled with memories that are not his own—is so profound, that Akebrand transforms this world into incredible richness. The snow burying everything, the voice of a woman trapped in the past, the smell of wood smoke, the rustling of pages of manuscript poems, the repeated actions of sleeping, waking, cooking, eating. An owl that passes, “rustling like the silken train of a dress across floorboards.” In this place time pauses so that “changes come about quietly like curtains slowly bleached in the sunlight.” Akebrand’s skill is of the poet, the ability to observe closely and metaphorically, to see and feel, and of the novelist, making dramas out of the mundane. What Akebrand has invented is no less than a new way of seeing, creating a narrative that gains tension as it pools and eddies, moving in circular, rhythmic time."
-John Bennion, author of Falling Toward Heaven
"The Field is White is a masterful book. In an interview, Hemingway once reportedly said, 'I want to write like Cezanne paints.' Hemingway may have wanted to do it, but Akebrand does it, seemingly effortlessly."
- Jeff Vande Zande, author of Into the Desperate Country
Claire Åkebrand is a Swede who grew up in Germany and Utah. Her poetry has appeared in the Manchester Review, BOAAT, the Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry collection What Was Left of the Stars is forthcoming with Serpent Club Press in Summer 2017. She is a Poetry MFA student at the University of Utah. She lives in Provo with the poet Michael Lavers and their two children.