Subduction is a lyric retelling of the troubled history of encounter in the Americas.

Fleeing the shattered remains of her marriage and treachery by her sister, a Latina anthropologist named Claudia takes refuge in Neah Bay, a Native whaling village on the jagged Pacific coast. Claudia yearns to lose herself to the songs of the tribe and the secrets of a spirited hoarder named Maggie. Instead, she stumbles into Maggie’s prodigal son Peter, who, spurred by his mother’s failing memory, has returned seeking answers to his father’s murder. Claudia helps Peter’s family convey a legacy delayed for decades by that death, but her presence, echoing centuries of fraught contact with indigenous peoples, brings lasting change and real damage. Through the ardent collision of Peter and Claudia, Subduction portrays not only their strange allegiance after grievous losses but also their shared hope of finding solace and community on the Makah Indian Reservation. An intimate tale of stunning betrayals, Subduction bears witness to the power of stories to disrupt—and to heal.


*Finalist for two International Latino Book Awards
*Selected as a Staff Pick by The Paris Review
*Shortlisted for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award
*Finalist for the Foreword Indies Book of the Year Award (Multicultural)
*SILVER MEDAL winner in the Independent Publisher Book Awards in Multicultural Fiction


“The brilliance of Subduction only suggests the wonders to come. It is a good day for us when Kristen Millares Young puts pen to paper. Highly recommended.” —Luis Alberto Urrea, winner of the American Book Award and author of The House of Broken Angels

“In this commanding novel, Kristen Millares Young captures the brutality of an anthropological gaze upon a Makah community. Her complex, exquisitely shaped characters embody the calamity of intrusion and the beauty of resilience.”—Elissa Washuta (Cowlitz), author of My Body is a Book of Rules (Red Hen Press) and Starvation Mode

“Young beautifully and vividly renders the Pacific Northwest, particularly the unique world of Neah Bay. Subduction is at once a thought-provoking meditation on the geography and geology of the natural world and a generous exploration of the natural shifts and movements that shape her characters.”—Jonathan Evison New York Times bestselling author, Lawn Boy, This is Your Life Harriet Chance!, West of Here, All About Lulu, and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

“With dreamlike, salt-water-laced prose that feels born of the Salish Sea, Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction lyrically examines relationships strained and forged by place and belonging. Intelligently addressing womanhood, community, lust, and loss, this is a novel as deep as it is intoxicating, as intricate as it is powerful. Like Marilynne Robinson’s HousekeepingSubduction is a novel to be celebrated for both its poetry and wisdom.”—Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra (Henry Holt 2019)

“Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction is the powerful debut novel from a writer that comes to us fully formed. This book is as unforgettable as it is timely, a story that keeps us riveted from beginning to end, written with abundant grace and lyric intensity. Beautiful, smart, and urgent. Read this book now.”—Robert Lopez, author of Good PeopleKamby Bolongo Mean RiverPart of the WorldAll Back FullAsunder

“Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction is a taut, atmospheric tale that gave me what I hope for in a novel: characters that I can care about, in a place that seems real, with stakes that really matter. This is an enormously impressive debut. I’ll eagerly await more from this writer.”—Steve Yarbrough, PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, winner of a Richard Wright Award and a California Book Award, author of The Unmade WorldThe Realm of Last ChancesThe End of CaliforniaPrisoners of War.

Subduction will give you a sense of life lived in the most remote corner of the lower 48, the Makah reservation in Washington State. The ever-changing Pacific Ocean, the emerald forests, the geoduck clams, and the scruffy sea-scoured dwellings are merely the foundation of Kristen Millares Young’s suspenseful, atmospheric first novel. The characters leap off the page and into your heart. I wanted to swallow the story whole, and I was happy to know it would take time to savor it. An auspicious debut!”—Patricia Henley, National Book Award Finalist, author of Hummingbird HouseIn the River Sweet, and Other Heartbreaks

“‘Love is a kind of home,’ Kristen Millares Young writes in Subduction. But in the world of this beautifully written novel, home is also a place of secrets, murder, and loss. A tale of taking and giving, resistance and surrender, Subduction raises troubling, provocative questions about our struggle to belong.”—Samuel Ligon, author of Miller CaneAmong the Dead and DreamingSafe in Heaven Dead

“Set in the Pacific Northwest, Subduction is a lyrical forest of storytelling rooted in indigenous voices and invaded by those who would steal the tongues and hearts of the ones they love while bartering and betraying the idea of belonging to a land, a birthright, and a family. When you read Kristen Millares Young’s words, you understand how it is we can steal, can betray, can love.”—Shawn Wong, author of Homebase and American Knees

Subduction introduces a welcome new voice in Kristen Millares Young, here telling a taut, fraught story of two people who meet and engage in circumstances that surprise. Both have lived but are seeking to live yet more fully, even as they’re beset by their pasts. Whether the way to such realization is with the other is a core part of this vividly written story. Set on Makah Nation land, part of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Subduction is a searching exploration of historic legacies in the present day. The result: a book of reckoning, full-heartedly told.”—Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company

A graphic design of a blue ocean and a red geographic aerial view of a a piece of land and a neighboring island with white script at the top that reads Subduction a novel by Kristen Millares Young.

Kristen Millares Young ( Author Website )

Publication Date: April 14, 2020

Genre/Imprint: Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-892-2


SUBDUCTION author featured in The Rumpus!

In these disunited states, containing within them many sovereign nations, we are in what Biodun Jeyifo called “arrested decolonization.” And yet, as Mukoma Wa Ngugi wrote, “The work of decolonization […]

Kristen Millares Young article in The Rumpus!

As editor of SEISMIC:Seattle, City of Literature, I asked artists and storytellers to reflect on what it means for Seattle to be a City of Literature. While celebrating Seattle’s inclusion in […]

Subduction recommended by High Country News!

One of the books I read this year and loved (and keep recommending!) is Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction, set on the Makah Reservation in Neah Bay, Washington. The story follows two […]

A Message to the City from Kristen Millares Young

Good morning. It’s Friday, August 7, and we’re ending the week with something special: a message from the novelist and journalist Kristen Millares Young, followed by a visual poem that is an excerpt […]

The Rumpus: Outsiders Looking In

I met Kristen Millares Young at AWP’s annual writing conference earlier this year. I sidled up, thrust my advance copy of Subduction in front of her to sign, and she said, “It’s […]

HipLatina: 15 Latinx Summer Reads to Beat the Boredom

Subduction topped the New Release in Hispanic American Literature Amazon Kindle chart, so you know it’s a good read for summer.  Kristen Millares Young’s book follows Claudia, a Latina anthropologist who […]

The Long Fight to Decolonize Book Research

Kristen Millares Young on Learning from Makah Tradition I am zipped into a tent on my friend’s beachfront lawn. Caring for her mom and kids, she has a full house, […]

April 2020 Reads for the Rest of Us

Ms. Magazine Ms. Feminist Know-It-All features Subduction! In this utterly unique and important first novel, Young examines themes of love, intrusion, loss, community and trust against a backdrop of a […]

On Diaspora, Encounter, and Emotional Restitution

There are a lot of moving, shifting pieces that comprise Kristen Millares Young’s stunning debut novel, Subduction; its characters are equal parts voyeurs and participants in their own unraveling, and the Pacific […]


Thanks for the shoutout World Wide Work!

UNDER NUSHAGAK BLUFF by Mia C. Heavener, SUBDUCTION by Kristen Millares Young, and SUMMER OF THE CICADAS by Chelsea Catherine were all featured on the newsletter World Wide Work: Books, […]

Past as Place in Subduction

In Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction, one of the main characters, Peter, a member of the Makah tribe, talks about the past as a physical place that can hold you. In the […]

Rain Taxi: Subduction reviewed by Douglas Cole

Subduction is most of all a story of displacement and dislocation: for Claudia, whose Latina heritage lies over a border and whose sense of family lies beyond the betrayal that […]

Library Journal reviews Subduction

VERDICT Gorgeously, toughly written, this book dares to be open-ended yet leaves readers with a satisfying sense of how life really unfolds. Cultural clash matters here, but personal differences and […]

The Paris Review: Staff Picks Subduction

Kristen Millares Young’s debut novel Subduction takes as its subject a subtle clash of culture in the Pacific Northwest. The novel’s protagonist, Claudia, is an anthropologist fleeing the remains of her marriage […]