With writing that is both devastating and tender, Mark Powell brings his acclaimed eye to an American marriage on the verge of rupture, spinning an all-too-current tale of the world we live in and the world we fear—and how we may not be able to tell the two apart—perfect for fans of Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles and Denis Johnson’s The Laughing Monsters.
Tess Maynard is coming apart. At home with her three young children in her husband’s Georgia hometown, people keep asking if she’s depressed, if she and John are okay.
Secretly, she’s becoming obsessed with the war on terror—an ISIS beheading video in particular. Something about the victim’s captivity on the computer screen resonates with her. Something inside of her demands endless prayers for a world gone mad.
The carefully constructed life of her husband is likewise beginning to unravel. Now a college counselor, John’s former life bears persistently into the present. Once a contractor at a CIA black site that interrogated suspected terrorists—and one innocent civilian—he is given a choice by the Justice Department: either help with a problem in the homeland, or they investigate.
Forced by an old colleague to spy on a new one, John’s experiences abroad come home to roost in Georgia. For his wife, for his family, he goes along with the game. But just as he and Tess work to salvage their life together, the world comes between them in the form of a young man slowly being radicalized by the professor John is reporting on.
In a moment Tess imagined and never wanted to see, the intersection of their three lives is as devastating as the bomber’s explosion of hate and metal, and as inevitable as the battle between powers great and personal.
Mark Powell is the author of four previous novels, including The Sheltering. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and in 2014 was a Fulbright Fellow to Slovakia. In 2009, he received the Chaffin Award for contributions to Appalachian literature. He holds degrees from Yale Divinity School, the University of South Carolina, and The Citadel. He lives in the mountains of North Carolina, where he teaches at Appalachian State University.
"An excellent, suspenseful ride... Powell digs deeply into some heavy themes, exploring pervasive violence and the startling path to radicalization that disaffected teens can find themselves on. In this well-constructed and believable story, there’s no easy way out for any of the characters. Readers will be eager to find out how these lyrical and tense stories entwine, and they eventually do, with surprising but inevitable results."
– Publishers Weekly on Small Treasons
“Impossible to put down, Echolocation is the best work of Mark Powell’s young career, and brings all of his prodigious talents to bear on his most compelling story yet. An up-to-the-minute exploration of our political climate and the violence, both physical and emotional, that results from it.”
– James Scott, author of The Kept
“A brilliant novelist at the top of his game. Echolocation achieves that rare balance between complexity and pacing, a story rich and intricate, propulsive and satisfying. Mark Powell has been the South’s best-kept secret for far too long.”
– David Joy, author of Where All Light Tends To Go
“This terrifying novel is a work of genius. I couldn’t stop reading it, but I had to adjust to the world inside the book, which unnerved me much more than my actual trips to Syria did. Be careful as you read it, but for God’s sake, read it. Powell is something else. Whew.”
– Dennis Covington, author of Salvation on Sand Mountain
"Both richly regional and ambitiously international in scope, Echolocation probes the murky depths of a troubled marriage, moving between the personal and political with lyrical ease. Powell’s characters—flawed, contemplative, and viscerally alive—pine for meaningful communication as they struggle to ground their identities in a complex world. As intimate perspectives converge into a masterful plot, Echolocation delivers brutal truths about contemporary global politics—but not without a note of cautious hope.”