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 Northwest landscape they inhabit boasts its own treasure trove of secrets that continually capsizes their notions of self. The premise for the book is this: a prodigal son, Peter, returns to the whaling village of the Makah people, which he fled years ago following his father’s murder. His elderly mother, Maggie, is attempting to make up for lost time, but her memory is fast-fading, and it’s unclear whether or not she’ll be able to pass down the generations-old traditions of their people before it’s too late.