Subduction: My Debut Novel




You can buy SUBDUCTION by clicking on the cover above. Named a staff pick by The Paris ReviewSubduction is also available for purchase through Red Hen Press, BookshopIndiebound, Barnes & Noble and Amazon

“In this utterly unique and important first novel, Young examines themes of love, intrusion, loss, community and trust against a backdrop of a Makah reservation in the Pacific Northwest.”

Ms. Magazine (named SUBDUCTION a top 2020 Feminist Book)

“In Young’s lyrical and atmospheric debut, two damaged outsiders, estranged from their families and cultures, struggle to discover where they really belong.”

— Kirkus Reviews

Subduction is a gritty novel in which floundering people find hope and understanding where they least expect it.”

Foreword Reviews (five star review)

“The title of the book refers to the geological phenomenon of one tectonic plate sinking under the influence of another, during which both subsumed and overriding plates are wracked by distortion and disruption. In Young’s novel, the answer to which is which is left beautifully unclear.”

—  The Paris Review (named SUBDUCTION a staff pick)

“The prose is at once poetic and punching.”

Seattle Met

“Her fiction is well-observed and immersive, as you can see in this excerpt from her novel, Subduction.”

–– The Stranger

My debut novel Subduction is a lyric retelling of the troubled history of encounter in the Americas. Subduction is forthcoming from Red Hen Press on April 14, 2020


Fleeing the shattered remains of her marriage and treachery by her sister, a Latina anthropologist named Claudia takes refuge in Neah Bay, a Native whaling village on the jagged Pacific coast. Claudia yearns to lose herself to the songs of the tribe and the secrets of a spirited hoarder named Maggie. Instead, she stumbles into Maggie’s son Peter, who, spurred by his mother’s failing memory, has returned seeking answers to his father’s murder. Claudia helps Peter’s family convey a legacy long delayed by that death, but her presence, echoing centuries of fraught contact with indigenous peoples, brings lasting change and real damage. 

Through the brutal and ardent collision of these two outsiders, Subduction portrays not only their strange allegiance after grievous losses but also their shared hope to find community on the Makah Indian Reservation. An intimate tale of stunning betrayals, Subduction bears witness to the power of stories to disrupt – and to heal.

Read about Subduction in The Millions, where Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum and I exchanged ideas about storytelling, motherhood, civic engagement and the canon.

In February of 2020, this New Books Network podcast featured Subduction via my hourlong conversation about cultural tension, entanglement and healing with New Books of the American West host Ryan Tate.

Please check out Subduction‘s details and advance praise for which I’ll remain forever grateful:

“The brilliance of Subduction only suggests the wonders to come. It is a good day for us when Kristen Millares Young puts pen to paper. Highly recommended.”

—Luis Alberto Urrea, winner of the American Book Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The House of Broken Angels, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, The Devil’s Highway and Nobody’s Son, among many others. 

“In this commanding novel, Kristen Millares Young captures the brutality of an anthropological gaze upon a Makah community. Her complex, exquisitely shaped characters embody the calamity of intrusion and the beauty of resilience.”

—Elissa Washuta (Cowlitz), author of My Body is a Book of Rules and Starvation Mode

“Young beautifully and vividly renders the Pacific Northwest, particularly the unique world of Neah Bay. Subduction is at once a thought-provoking meditation on the geography and geology of the natural world and a generous exploration of the natural shifts and movements that shape her characters.”

— Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of Lawn Boy and The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, among others.

“With dreamlike, salt-water-laced prose that feels born of the Salish Sea, Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction lyrically examines relationships strained and forged by place and belonging. Intelligently addressing womanhood, community, lust, and loss, this is a novel as deep as it is intoxicating, as intricate as it is powerful. Like Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, Subduction is a novel to be celebrated for both its poetry and wisdom.”

—Sharma Shields, author of The Cassandra, winner of a Washington state Book Award for The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac

“Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction is the powerful debut novel from a writer that comes to us fully formed. This book is as unforgettable as it is timely, a story that keeps us riveted from beginning to end, written with abundant grace and lyric intensity. Beautiful, smart, and urgent. Read this book now.”

—Robert Lopez, author of Good People, Kamby Bolongo Mean River, Part of the World, All Back Full and Asunder.

“Kristen Millares Young’s Subduction is a taut, atmospheric tale that gave me what I hope for in a novel: characters that I can care about with stakes that really matter. This is an enormously impressive debut. I’ll eagerly await more from this writer.”

—Steve Yarbrough, PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, winner of a Richard Wright Award and a California Book Award, author of The Unmade World, The Realm of Last Chances, The End of California, Prisoners of War.

“‘Love is a kind of home,’ Kristen Millares Young writes in Subduction. But in the world of this beautifully written novel, home is also a place of secrets, murder, and loss. A tale of taking and giving, resistance and surrender, Subduction raises troubling, provocative questions about our struggle to belong.”

—Samuel Ligon, author of Miller Cane, Wonderland and Safe in Heaven Dead

“Subduction will give you a sense of life lived in the most remote corner of the lower 48, the Makah reservation in Washington State. The ever-changing Pacific Ocean, the emerald forests, the geoduck clams, and the scruffy seascoured dwellings are merely the foundation of Kristen Millares Young’s suspenseful, atmospheric first novel. The characters leap off the page and into your heart. I wanted to swallow the story whole, and I was happy to know it would take time to savor it. An auspicious debut!”

—Patricia Henley, National Book Award Finalist, author of Hummingbird House

“Set in the Pacific Northwest, Subduction is a lyrical forest of storytelling rooted in indigenous voices and invaded by those who would steal the tongues and hearts of the ones they love while bartering and betraying the idea of belonging to a land, a birthright, and a family. When you read Kristen Millares Young’s words, you understand how it is we can steal, can betray, can love.”

—Shawn Wong, author of Homebase and American Knees

“Subduction introduces a welcome new voice in Kristen Millares Young, here telling a taut, fraught story of two people who meet and engage in circumstances that surprise. Both have lived but are seeking to live yet more fully, even as they’re beset by their pasts. Whether the way to such realization is with the other is a core part of this vividly written story. Set on Makah Nation land, part of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Subduction is a searching exploration of historic legacies in the present day. The result: a book of reckoning, full-heartedly told.”

—Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company

Listen to a brief interview and reading here. Excerpts from Subduction have appeared in City Arts Magazine, Pacifica Literary Review, Jack Straw Writers Anthology and Shake the Tree, Vol. II.


© 2019 Kristen Millares Young.