"I'm an LA native with a lot of love for LA crime fiction, but instead of preaching to the noir choir about The Long Goodbye, I'd like to gush about Southland by Nina Revoyr. It's a brilliant, ambitious, moving literary crime novel about two families in South Los Angeles and their tangled history between the 1930s and the 1990s. The central mystery is the death of four black boys in a Japanese-American man's store during the Watts Rebellion of 1965. It's a powerful book, one that I think about often, as well as a huge influence on my work. Right up there with Chandler."
--Stephanie Cha (of the LARB) in GQ on "The Greatest Crime Novelists on Their Favorite Crime Novels Ever"

"Jackie Ishida's grandfather had a store in Watts where four boys were killed during the riots in 1965, a mystery she attempts to solve."
--New York Times Book Review, Ross MacDonald on "Where Noir Lives in the City of Angels"

"[A]n absolutely compelling story of family and racial tragedy. Revoyr's novel is honest in detailing southern California's brutal history, and honorable in showing how families survived with love and tenacity and dignity."
--Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon

Southland brings us a fascinating story of race, love, murder and history, against the backdrop of an ever-changing Los Angeles. A young Japanese-American woman, Jackie Ishida, is in her last semester of law school when her grandfather, Frank Sakai, dies unexpectedly. While trying to fulfill a request from his will, Jackie discovers that four African-American boys were killed in the store Frank owned during the Watts Riots of 1965. Along with James Lanier, a cousin of one of the victims, Jackie tries to piece together the story of the boys' deaths. In the process, she unearths the long-held secrets of her family's history.

Southland depicts a young woman in the process of learning that her own history has bestowed upon her a deep obligation to be engaged in the larger world. And in Frank Sakai and his African-American friends, it presents characters who find significant common ground in their struggles, but who also engage each other across grounds--historical and cultural--that are still very much in dispute.

Moving in and out of the past--from the internment camps of World War II, to the barley fields of the Crenshaw District in the 1930s, to the streets of Watts in the 1960s, to the night spots and garment factories of the 1990s--Southland weaves a tale of Los Angeles in all of its faces and forms.

Nina Revoyr is the author of The Necessary Hunger ("Irresistible." --Time Magazine). She was born in Japan, raised in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and is of Japanese and Polish-American descent. She lives and works in Los Angeles.

"With her two Walter Mosley-like gifts--impeccable narrative pacing and masterful command of Los Angeles' intricate, evolving dynamics of race and class--Nina Revoyr's LA novels convincingly capture the lifespan of Los Angeles as a major city, none more gracefully than A Student of History."
--New York Journal of Books

"Revoyr's latest is just barely a crime novel, but uses enough of the angles and atmospherics of noir to count, with a story that's somewhere in between Sunset Boulevard and the darker regions of The Great Gatsby...Revoyr is a subtle observer of human foibles and social structures alike, and the result is one of the most insightful, and the most entertaining books of the year."
--CrimeReads, included as One of the Best Crime Books of 2019 (So Far)

"A Student of History is full of research, detail, lush descriptions, and visual place-setting. [Revoyr's] a fiction writer with an eye for reality set in a dream-like world, often in her home city of Los Angeles."
--The Rumpus

"Any Nina Revoyr novel is a cause for celebration, and her latest, A Student of History, is assured and marvelous, an absorbing rags among riches tale about a broke USC grad student who finds himself swept off his feet by Los Angeles's insular, powerful .01% class. It's a contemporary novel that feels like an instant classic, with the wry tragedy of The House of Mirth, the sinister glamour of Sunset Boulevard, and a fresh, original point of view."
--CrimeReads

"Nina Revyor's new novel, A Student of History, continues the tradition of the Los Angeles oil novel, but steers it in a new direction."
--Rain Taxi Review of Books

Rick Nagano is a graduate student in the history department at USC, struggling to make rent on his South Los Angeles apartment near the neighborhood where his family once lived. When he lands a job as a research assistant for the elderly Mrs. W--, the heir to an oil fortune, he sees it at first simply as a source of extra cash. But as he grows closer to the iconoclastic, charming, and feisty Mrs. W--, he gets drawn into a world of privilege and wealth far different from his racially mixed, blue-collar beginnings.

Putting aside his half-finished dissertation, Rick sets up office in Mrs. W--'s grand Bel Air mansion and begins to transcribe her journals--which document an old Los Angeles not described in his history books. He also accompanies Mrs. W-- to venues frequented by the descendants of the land and oil barons who built the city. One evening, at an event, he meets Fiona Morgan--the elegant scion of an old steel family--who takes an interest in his studies. Irresistibly drawn to Fiona, he agrees to help her with a project of questionable merit in the hopes he'll win her favor.

A Student of History explores both the beginnings of Los Angeles and the present-day dynamics of race and class. It offers a window into the usually hidden world of high society, and the influence of historic families on current events. Like Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby, it features, in Rick Nagano, a young man of modest means who is navigating a world where he doesn't belong.

One of the San Francisco Chronicle's 100 Recommended Books of 2015

"Los Angeles is home to many great storytellers, but Nina Revoyr is one of its finest scribes....[Lost Canyon] pulses with both beauty and terror, and the struggles of these characters, their physical and mental reckonings, are enough to make readers sweat without getting off the couch."
--Los Angeles Times

"Revoyr [is] an edgy and spellbinding writer with an uncanny gift for aligning human struggles with nature's glory and perils....With ravishing descriptions of the magnificent landscape, unrelenting suspense, incisive psychology, and shrewd perspectives on matters of race and gender, Revoyr has created a gripping tale of unintended adventure and profound transformation."
--Booklist, Starred review

"A suspenseful adventure story that explores how people react to danger, uncertainty, fear, and life-or-death choices....This is an exciting, page-turning adventure story that reveals how good people can do things totally contrary to their own moral code, and the conclusion will both surprise and satisfy."
--Publishers Weekly

"Revoyr travels LA's patchwork neighborhoods--delineating gangs and money, color and prejudice--and nicely sketches 'the grand, untamed Sierra.' Like Deliverance, a tense...morality tale formed in the crucible of physical duress."
--Kirkus Reviews

"With a nod to James Dickey's Deliverance...A direct, bangin' read for those interested in how people deal with physical and moral challenges."
--Library Journal

"An exciting blend of literary fiction and thrilling suspense--a harrowing trip into physical danger and a clever meditation on race relations and bravery."
--Shelf Awareness

A Book Riot Quick Pick/Book of the Week for the week of August 28, 2015

"What a pleasure it is seeing characters that live and breathe in the same textured universe that we do....Linked to complicated national issues, imbued with layered representations of Angelenos, [Revoyr] has brought us an intellectually adroit, emotionally nerve-wracking, page-turning thriller."
--Los Angeles Review of Books

"Even at its deadliest, Revoyr makes the high altitude seem mesmerizing....Revoyr has created characters we care for, issues we need to think about, and vistas that linger, making reading her book almost as much of a rush as scaling the sheer, icy rock of the Sierra Nevada."
--San Francisco Chronicle

Four people on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada find more adventure than they ever imagined. Each of them is drawn to the mountains for reasons as diverse as their own lives. Gwen Foster, a counselor for at-risk youth, is struggling with burnout from the demands of her job and with the loss of one of her teens. Real estate agent Oscar Barajas is adjusting to the fall of the housing market and being a single parent. Todd Harris, an attorney, is stuck in a lucrative but unfulfilling career--and in a failing marriage. They are all brought together by their trainer, Tracy Cole, a former athlete with a taste for risky pursuits.

When the hikers start up a pristine mountain trail that hasn't been traveled in years, all they have to guide them is a hand-drawn map of a remote, mysterious place called Lost Canyon. At first, the route past high alpine lakes and under towering, snowcapped peaks offers all the freedom and exhilaration they'd hoped for. But when they stumble onto someone who doesn't want to be found, the group finds itself faced with a series of dangerous conflicts, moral dilemmas, confrontations with nature, and an all-out struggle for survival.

Moving effortlessly between city and wilderness, Lost Canyon explores the ways that race, class, and culture shape experience and perception. It examines the choices good people must face in desperate situations. Set in the grand, wild landscape of the California mountains, Lost Canyon is a story of brewing social tensions and breathtaking adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
“The Age of Dreaming is a masterpiece of the sort that doesn’t just seduce the reader—it leaves you transformed. Nina Revoyr deserves to be counted among the top ranks of novelists at work today.”—Jerry Stahl, author of I, Fatty

“This is a riveting, wise, and gorgeous novel.”—Mary Yukari Waters

“Brilliant and original. . . . The carefully restrained voice of its narrator recalls Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day.”—Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize winner

Jun Nakayama was a silent film star in the early days of Hollywood, but by 1964, he is living in complete obscurity—until a young writer, Nick Bellinger, reveals that he has written a screenplay with Nakayama in mind. Jun is intrigued by the possibility of returning to movies, but he begins to worry that someone might delve too deeply into the past and uncover the events that led to the abrupt end of his career in 1922. These events include the changing racial tides in California and the unsolved murder of his favorite director, Ashley Bennett Tyler.

The Age of Dreaming is part historical novel, part mystery, and part unrequited love story.

Nina Revoyr was born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and a Polish-American father, and grew up in Japan, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. She is the author of two previous novels, The Necessary Hunger and Southland, which was a Book Sense 76 pick, winner of the Ferro-Grumley and Lambda Literary awards, a finalist for an Edgar Award, and one of the Los Angeles Times’ “Best Books of 2003.” She lives and works in Los Angeles.
A Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet "Best of the Bunch" Fiction Pick

"High school basketball player Nancy Takahiro's future is uncertain. She's courted by recruiters from various colleges, but isn't sure where she'll go once high school ends. But when her father moves in with the mother of her friend and basketball rival Raina Webber, Nancy's life gets a little more complicated."
--Bustle, included in "15 Sapphic Romances to Cozy Up With This Valentine's Day"

"Revoyr's The Necessary Hunger is absolutely pioneering: it may be the first work by an out, queer Asian American writer to be published out of a major press AND for that work to include a major queer Asian American lesbian courtship plot. The interracial dynamics and high school sporting plot all make for an engaging work, one well worthy of retaining in print forever!"
--Asian American Literature Fans

"[Revoyr's] characters are diverse and full of vulnerabilities, passion, and drive, and it is commendable to see a gay, Asian-American, female athlete as the protagonist...All in all, the story is worth reading to experience the racial tensions and teenage gay love and angst in a city that is growing restless."
--The Eclectic Review

Praise for the original edition of The Necessary Hunger:

"The Necessary Hunger is the kind of irresistible read you start on the subway at six p.m. on the way home from work and keep plowing through until you’ve turned the last page...It beats with the pulse of life...American writers dealing with race relations tend to focus on black-white or Asian-white situations; Revoyr has the imagination to depict racial issues in which whites are not the reference point."
--Time Magazine

"Quietly intimate, vigorously honest, and uniquely American...Tough and tender without a single false note."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Revoyr triumphs in blending many complex issues, including urban poverty and violence, adolescent sexuality, and the vitality of basketball, without losing sight of her characters. She creates a family, in all senses of the word, of characters who are complex, admirable, and aggravating; readers will root for them on and off the court."
--Detroit Free Press

"A wholesome coming-of-age novel about two high school basketball stars, Revoyr's debut is a meditation on consuming passion and a reflection on lost opportunities...The basketball action, which builds climactically, honors the split-second timing and excitement of the game. Revoyr also evokes the feel of contemporary LA, capturing crackheads, gang-bangers, and car-jackings in sharp, street-smart dialogue."
--Publishers Weekly

The Necessary Hunger follows two basketball stars--Nancy Takahiro and Raina Webber--and several of their friends through their last year of high school. For some of them, their senior year will be full of glory, and the anticipation of college. For others, however, stranded in an inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood that promises little in the way of opportunity, it will mark not only the end of their time in school but also the end of their hope.

As Nancy and Raina both prepare to leave the urban neighborhood that has nurtured them, they find themselves looking toward a future that is no longer easily defined. The Necessary Hunger is about families, friendship, racial identity, and young people who are nearing adulthood in a dangerous and challenging world. It is about sports as a means of salvation, about the nature of competition, and ultimately about the various kinds of love.

Our reissue of The Necessary Hunger includes a new introduction by Lynell George, and a new afterword by Nina Revoyr.

Four people on a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada find more adventure than they ever imagined. They are drawn to the mountains for reasons as diverse as their own lives. Gwen Foster, a counselor for at-risk youths, is struggling with burnout from the demands of her job. Real estate agent Oscar Barajas is adjusting to the fall of the housing market and being a single parent. Todd Harris, an attorney, is stuck in a lucrative but unfulfilling career-and in a failing marriage. They are all brought together by their trainer, Tracy Cole, a former athlete with a taste for risky pursuits. When the hikers start up a pristine mountain trail that hasn't been traveled in years, all they have to guide them is a hand-drawn map of a remote, mysterious place called Lost Canyon. At first, the route past high alpine lakes and under towering, snowcapped peaks offers all the freedom and exhilaration they'd hoped for. But when they stumble onto someone who doesn't want to be found, the group finds itself faced with a series of dangerous conflicts, moral dilemmas, confrontations with nature, and an all-out struggle for survival. Moving effortlessly between city and wilderness, Lost Canyon explores the ways that race, class, and culture shape experience and perception. It examines the choices good people must face in desperate situations. Set in the grand, wild landscape of California's mountains, Lost Canyon is a story of brewing social tensions and breathtaking adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
A contemporary Los Angeles story of uncrossable social lines, allegiance and betrayal, immeasurable power, and the ways the present is continually shaped by the past. Rick Nagano is a graduate student in the history department at USC, struggling to make rent on the South Los Angeles apartment near the neighborhood where his family once lived. When he lands a job as a research assistant for the elderly Mrs. W--, the heir to an oil fortune, he sees it at first simply as a source of extra cash. But as he grows closer to the iconoclastic, charming, and feisty Mrs. W--, he gets drawn into a world of privilege and wealth far different from his racially mixed, blue-collar beginnings. Putting aside his half-finished dissertation, Rick sets up office in Mrs. W--'s grand Bel Air mansion and begins to transcribe her journals--which document an old Los Angeles not described in his history books. He also accompanies Mrs. W-- to venues frequented by the descendants of the land and oil barons who built the city. One evening, at an event, he meets Fiona Morgan--the elegant scion of an old steel family--who takes an interest in his studies. Irresistibly drawn to Fiona, he agrees to help her with a project of questionable merit in the hopes he'll win her favor. The Student of History explores both the beginnings of Los Angeles and present-day dynamics of race and class. It offers a window into the usually hidden world of high society, and the influence of historic families on current events. Like Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby, it features, in Rick Nagano, a young man of modest means who is navigating a world where he doesn't belong. Set in a modern-day Los Angeles that's both familiar and unknown, The Student of History is a story of uncrossable social lines, allegiance and betrayal, immeasurable power, and the ways the present is continually shaped by the past.
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