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Bo Caldwell Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Distant Land of My Father (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
City of Tranquil Light (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

Bo Caldwell is a literary fiction novelist who was born in Oklahoma City.

She was then brought up in the outskirts of Los Angeles but as an adult has spent much of her life in the San Francisco Bay Area and hence all these places feel like home albeit in different ways.
As for college, she went to Stanford University where she would then have a Jone Lectureship in Creative Writing and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship.

Bo published her debut novel “The Distant Land of My Father” in 2001 and it was this work that would make her popular as in 2008 it became a Silicon Valley Read.
She has also penned personal essays for the likes of America Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Caldwell has also been honored with Stanford University’s Georgia Shreve Prize in Fiction and the San Francisco Foundation’s Joseph Henry Jackson Award.
Her short stories have been published in prestigious journals such as Epoch, Ploughshares, and Story.

Aside from her fiction, Caldwell has been an editor of business books and has also been a technical writer.

Just like many novelists, Bo Caldwell loved reading from the time she was still very young. Nonetheless, she does not have favorite authors as she loves the works of so many writers at different times.
Some of her favorite authors when it comes to fiction include Richard Ford, John Cheever, Marilyn Robinson, Elizabeth Spence, Grace Paley, and anything by Ron Hansen her husband.
She also reads nonfiction authors such as Frank McCourt’s memoirs, and John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley among many others.

While she does not have a favorite author, there have been some novels that have been an inspiration in her career as an author.

The three most influential have been Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Remains of the Day,” Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mocking Bird,” and Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.”

The novel that first made her want to become an author was John Nichols’ “The Sterile Cuckoo,” which she read while she was still writing short stories as a teenager.
While she doubted that she could write a book as great as that, the good thing was that her teenage mind pushed her to take a shot at writing nonetheless.

Bo Caldwell currently makes her home in California where she lives with Ron Hansen her husband who is an author and graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.
Outside of writing, she loves going to the movies as she finds them so immersive that she can often forget what day it is and where she is.

She also goes to the beach sometimes with her mother, with her dog, and sometimes alone at least once every week, as she finds the experience very restorative.
In 2004, she had the misfortune of getting a breast cancer diagnosis but luckily, it was caught early.

The entire experience taught her about the need to take care of herself emotionally, mentally, and physically, hence the focus on her several hobbies since then.
When she does not feel like going out, she can often be found listening to music, eating reasonably well, staying active, and getting a back massage when she is tired.

Bo Caldwell’s “The Distant Land of My Father” is a work that is set in Pasadena and Shanghai. The narrator is Anna who is the daughter of a millionaire, which means she is living a very good life.
Her father is actively involved in business in prewar Shanghai, where he sells and buys and does business with anyone willing to trade. Unlike other Europeans who are working for governments or international companies, he is a self-made man.
He becomes a very different person following a brush with the Chinese who invade China and he comes to believe that he has been bewitched.

His personality changes as he becomes blatant in showing off his wealth, even though he is keeping many secrets from his wife.

At some point, he is taken by the Japanese even though by this time his wife and Anna his daughter have moved back to California.

With the Nationalists nervous over Mao, he finds himself in prison once again after he is released by the Japanese. Joseph makes many mistakes as he abandons his daughter and wife and the latter fails at her attempt to reconnect with him.
Years later, his daughter is grown and is a mature woman when her father makes another attempt at reconnecting. He begins to rebuild his connection with his grandchildren and his daughter.
By this time he is a janitor who has accepted his fate.

It is a great novel all about the power of healing, relationships, forgiveness, and love.

“City of Tranquil Light” by Bo Caldwell is a work set in 1909 that tells the story of Katherine who is married to Will.
The couple has just arrived in the City of Tranquil Light to establish a new Mennonite church on the North China Plain. They never imagined that they would spend a quarter of a century in China and come to consider China their home.
The story is told from the perspective of Will a widower in his eighties who moved back to California in the United States where he now lives in a retirement home.

The man has vivid memories of the tribulations and trials of becoming a pastor where he earned the trust of the residents of the small city they lived in.

Bo is brilliant in interspersing the diary entries made by Katherine with the narration which is done by Will as they bring to life the moments and events they lived through together.
They had experienced a lot while living in China including civil war, personal losses, earthquakes, famine, and bandits.

Caldwell paints a picture of the missionaries in China as people who strove to serve God after answering his call to go on missions despite many hardships and sacrifices.

It is a great work of fiction that will have you engrossed from the first page to the last, which Bo Caldwell has said found inspiration from the missionary experiences of her grandparents.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Bo Caldwell

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