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David Vann is a prizewinning author, novelist and short story writer.

Born in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska in 1966, David opted to become a captain and boat builder after he couldn’t, for a staggering twelve years, find an agent willing enough to send out his first book, Legend of a Suicide—a book that has gone on to collect 10 prizes.

He has written The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Financial Times and others, while his books have been published in 23 languages.

David is an Honorary Professor at the University of Franche-Comté in France, and currently works as a Professor at the England’s University of Warwick.

More about David Vann

Born: 1966

Website: https://davidvann.com

Non Series
  • A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea (2005)
  • Aquarium (2015)
  • Caribou Island (2011)
  • Dirt (2012)
  • Goat Mountain (2013)
  • Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter (2011)
  • Legend of a Suicide (2008)
  • Bright Air Black (2017)

Detailed book overview

Non Series

A Mile Down: The True Story of a Disastrous Career at Sea

David Vann, a thirty-year-old tourist, solicits for $150,000 in order to construct a ninety-foot sailboat he comes across.

He in the long run however ends up spending more than $500,000 on the ship after being taken advantage of by Turkish builders. Vann opens up a chartering business seeing as he is on the brink of financial collapse, but this only presents a whole new set of challenges.

His debts continue growing bigger by the day, prompting Vann to wonder if he is following in failures of his father; failures that eventually led to his father’s suicide.

This award winning book is a page turning narration of the author’s story of struggle and redemption.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2005
ISBN: 978-1560257103
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Aquarium

Twelve-year-old Caitlin lives with her mother who works as a docker in Seattle. Theirs is a simple life led in a subsidized housing project next to the airport.

Caitlin loves visiting the local aquarium everyday while she waits to be picked up after school. She befriends an old man at the tanks as the two are united by their common interest and admiration of the fish.

This however uncovers a deeply guarded family secret—one that threatens to destroy the idyllic relationship she has with her mother.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2015
ISBN: 978-0802124791
Publisher: Grove Press
Caribou Island

Gary and Irene, who live on a small island in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Borough, are trying to start a new life together. Gary is propelled by three decades of plans that haven’t taken their full course, while Irene is tormented by a past tragedy.

They build a cabin, on which they promise to live in good and bad times, in sickness and in health, but their construction plans weren’t the most appropriate. When winter comes early, the harsh isolation of the prehistoric wilderness coupled with their daughter’s own disappointments in life will shake their family unit to the very core.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0061875731
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Dirt

It is 1985, and Galen, twenty-two-year-old, lives with his emotionally dependent mother in an old isolated house in suburb Sacramento. He doesn’t know his paternal origin, his grandfather—abusive to say the least—is dead, and the two live off their family’s trust fund; money that Helen and Jennifer, his aunt and seventeen-year-old cousin, are adamant to get keep for themselves.

Galen however has impermissible desires of the openly flirtatious Jennifer, and can’t wait to relieve himself of his highly attached mother.

So when they take a family trip to a cabin near South Lake Tahoe, Galen will learn the depths he will go just to reach the transcendence he so yearns for.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-0062121073
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Goat Mountain

The year is 1978, and an eleven-year-old boy accompanies his grandfather, father, and his father’s best friend on the yearly deer hunting outing conducted every fall at Goat Mountain ranch in Northern California.

The family owns Goat Mountain, and there is no other place they would rather be. The boy wants to graduate and is itching to get his first kill.

But when the father sights a poacher using his gun and allows his son to take a look through the scope of his gun, the effortless task soon escalates into an unprecedented tragedy.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2013
Ebook: B01MTN725E
Publisher: Windmill Books
Last Day on Earth: A Portrait of the NIU School Shooter

On February 14 2008, armed shooter Steve Kazmierczak killed five and wounded eighteen people at Northern Illinois University before killing himself.

What could possibly have motivated his actions given that he was an A student and a Deans’ Award winner?

The unfortunate event became more intriguing when some of the most renowned media outlets like CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune struggled to get any concrete story, as even Steve’s closest friends and professors didn’t know what prompted his actions.

Having conducted a thorough and extensive investigating for Esquire—one that saw him go through 1500 pages of police files—David Vann presents some mind-boggling truths about the killer, and his own contemplation a school shooting.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0820345345
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Legend of a Suicide

In this emotional semi-autobiographical debut collection of stories, David Vann opens up on how he as a young man struggled to come to terms with the pain, agony and guilt that accompanied his father’s suicide.

His isolated native of Alaska provides the perfect backdrop for this artistic piece of writing that comes in the form of a novella and five short stories.

Legend of a Suicide provides an extensive understanding of the unfortunate distant nature of the relationship between one boy and his father who fell from divorce to suicide.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2008
ISBN: 978-0061875847
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Bright Air Black

Based in 13th century B.C., Bright Air Black paints a vivid and concise picture of the life of Medea—one of the most infamously captivating women in ancient mythology.

The book brings us aboard Argo the ship and its voyage across the Black Sea from Persia’s Colchis. Medea is onboard the ship after fleeing from her home—and most importantly her father—along with Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece.

David Vann looks to demystify the assumptions that Medea is a monster by providing a postulation of her humanity, position in the Greek society, her love affair with Jason, and her ultimate and tragic demise.

Author: David Vann
First Release: 2017
ISBN: 978-0802125804
Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat