Paula Saunders

Cindy Seip

Paula Saunders, a graduate of the Syracuse University creative writing program, grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota. The setting of her debut novel, The Distance Home (Penguin Random House), is the bleak and beautiful plains of South Dakota in the postwar years. René and her older brother Leon share a love of dance, yet for all they have in common, their lives unfold on different tracks. As René works to save herself, crossing to a larger, more hopeful world, Leon embarks on a path of despair and self-destruction. The Distance Home is a profoundly American story, a tale of haves and have-nots, and of how our ideas of winning and losing, success and failure, affect our capacity for empathy and caring for one another. In a starred review, Booklist called it “an exquisite, searing portrait of a family and of people coping with whatever life throws at them while trying to keep close to one another.”