A raw debut novel about a young woman braving the ups and downs of motherhood in a fractured America. When her Turkish husband is denied reentry into the United States, Daphne takes her infant daughter and heads to California's high desert.
Kiesling’s first novel encapsulates the intense and often conflicting feelings of early parenthood: frustration, tenderness, isolation. By playing with punctuation and sentence structure, Kiesling immerses the reader in the fragile headspace of the anxious new mother. With a style reminiscent of Claire Vaye Watkins and Sarah Stonich, The Golden State sparks the lovely, lonely feelings inside us all.
Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty and offers insights into language, academics, and even the United Nations. But perhaps best of all is her thought-provoking portrait of a pioneer community in decline as anger and obsession fray bonds between neighbors, family, and fellow citizens.
Kiesling offers a painfully honest portrait of motherhood and offers glimpses of a California that few ever see—or even know exists ... One of the only authors who comes to mind is Lydia Davis. Kiesling is similarly honest about this strange, disorienting time, but, where Davis is a master of microfiction, Kiesling covers this territory in exhaustive—and, frankly, exhausting—detail. On the one hand, this feels like a public service; on the other hand, anyone who has lived through this experience might not want to revisit it ... This plot shift feels quite timely, but it also feels like it belongs to another book. Kiesling is a talented author, though, with a unique voice. She’s very smart, very funny, and wonderfully empathetic. A technically uneven novel from a skilled and promising writer.