Congratulations to Jones Lecturer Ruchika Tomar, whose debut novel A Prayer for Travelers won the 2020 Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, an award given to a debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author.
About the novel:
Cale Lambert, a bookish loner of mysterious parentage, lives in a dusty town near the California-Nevada border, a place where coyotes scavenge for backyard dogs and long-haul truckers scavenge for pills and girls. Cale was raised by her grandfather in a loving, if codependent, household, but as soon as she's left high school his health begins an agonizing decline. Set adrift for the first time, Cale starts waitressing at the local diner, where she reconnects with Penélope Reyes, a charismatic former classmate running mysterious side-hustles to fund her dreams. Penny exposes Cale to the reality that exists beyond their small town, and the girls become inseparable----until one terrifying act of violence shatters their world. When Penny vanishes without a trace, Cale must set off on a dangerous quest across the desert to find her friend, and discover herself.
An audacious debut, told in deftly interwoven chapters, A Prayer for Travelers explores the complicated legacy of the American West and the trauma of female experience.