From award-winning author Paul Yoon comes a beautiful, aching novel about three kids orphaned in 1960s Laos—and how their destinies are entwined across decades, anointed by Hernan Diaz as “one of those rare novels that stays with us to become a standard with which we measure other books.”
Alisak, Prany, and Noi—three orphans united by devastating loss—must do what is necessary to survive the perilous landscape of 1960s Laos. When they take shelter in a bombed out field hospital, they meet Vang, a doctor dedicated to helping the wounded at all costs. Soon the teens are serving as motorcycle couriers, delicately navigating their bikes across the fields filled with unexploded bombs, beneath the indiscriminate barrage from the sky.
In a world where the landscape and the roads have turned into an ocean of bombs, we follow their grueling days of rescuing civilians and searching for medical supplies, until Vang secures their evacuation on the last helicopters leaving the country. It’s a move with irrevocable consequences—and sets them on disparate and treacherous paths across the world.
Spanning decades and magically weaving together storylines laced with beauty and cruelty, Paul Yoon crafts a gorgeous story that is a breathtaking historical feat and a fierce study of the powers of hope, perseverance, and grace.
About the Author
Paul Yoon is the author of two story collections, Once the Shore, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and The Mountain, which was a NPR Best Book of the Year. His novel Snow Hunters won the Young Lions Fiction Award. A recipient of fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars and the National Endowment for the Arts, he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife, the fiction writer Laura van den Berg, and their dog, Oscar.
"Yoon’s greatest skill lies in crafting subtle moments that underline the strange and specific sadness inherent to trauma....As children around the world continue to grow up surrounded by violence and war, authors like Yoon seek to understand how experiencing those horrors shapes the adults they eventually become. And in Run Me to Earth, those horrors are scattered like unexploded bombs, waiting to go off at any time." —Time Magazine
"Yoon's artfully orchestrated narrative illuminates this loudest, harshest, most chaotic of situations with restraint and elegance, finding and tracing an emotional thread that weaves the story into the reader's heart...This unique work of historical fiction could not be more timely, or more timeless." — Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Run Me to Earthis filled with haunting imagery and heartbreaking moments of truth. Combined with Yoon’s quiet, yet powerful writing style, each account builds on the previous one, slowly revealing new connections and insights that add on to the expanding connections of the initial characters." — International Examiner
“If you truly believe in the transformative power of literature then you must read this book. Run Me to Earth is a genuine masterpiece; fierce, tender, wise, earth-shattering, pulsating with love and hope.” — MIRIAM TOEWS, author of Women Talking
“With Run Me to Earth, Paul Yoon proves, yet again, that he is a master at finding depth of emotion in formal restraint and discovering the timeless core in the most urgent issues of our day. This is one of those rare novels that stays with us to become, over the years, a standard with which we measure other books.” — HERNAN DIAZ, author of In the Distance, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
“Yoon again exemplifies his unparalleled ability to create a quietly spectacular narrative that reveals the unfathomable worst and unwavering best of humanity; the result here provides mesmerizing gratification.” — BOOKLIST (STARRED REVIEW)
"In another life, Yoon (The Mountain, 2017, etc.) might have been a sculptor, carving the excess off his creations until they're perfect. In this decades-spanning examination of the survival of three orphans with the bad luck to have been born into the ruins of a battlefield, he's stretching his abilities while still writing with deliberate, almost vigilant care... Yoon's imaginative prose and affection for his characters make the story larger than a look at the ways people survive... Another masterpiece in miniature about the unpredictable directions a life can take." — KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)
“[A] sparely written gem… Yoon masterfully weaves their divergent story lines, unveiling the different trajectories of their lives… a finely wrought tale about courage and endurance.” —Publisher's Weekly
"Yoon, ever the elegant and penetrating writer, coolly delivers a devastating sense of what it’s like to be in the midst of war...Yoon (Snow Hunters), ever the elegant and penetrating writer, coolly delivers a devastating sense of what it’s like to be in the midst of war.” — Library Journal (starred review)