In this stunning, three-act tragedy—the first novel in Cates’s Homecoming Trilogy—Jack Dempsey Cliff drives through the night in search of the father he never knew. He’s in Kodiak, Alaska, at the end of the road, a frontier town where the soul of his culture is exposed and running wild in the street. What Jack finally finds is the courage to stand when it’s time to stand, act when it’s time to act. During one long night and into the dawn, Jack discovers what he loves, and in that love, his redemption.

Hunger in America is a golden story, drenched with gray pathos, steeped in the real world, primed to touch the reader’s heart and mind—the reader, that is, who turns the pages carefully and is ready to consider that what meets the eye shines only in the light of what doesn’t.
— Kinesis

A multilayered odyssey, it is a profound exploration of life’s uncertainty and the nature of spiritual hunger . . . Readers will come away from the odyssey with a renewed awareness that our richest experiences may take place in the imagination, where only narrow visions can deprive us of life’s endless possibilities.
— Chicago Sun-Times

Hunger in America moves along as if in life-like, almost semi-documentary randomness, with lots of energetic dialogue and movement, but as it unfolds we gradually realize how skillful and inexorable a pattern has been woven. The ending surprises, yet in retrospect seems preordained, inevitable. David Cates’ first novel, once read, becomes even more mysterious and haunting upon contemplation. The riddle of fate is beautifully posed.
— The Los Angeles Times

Cates could have taken a minimalist’s bored mower to this bleak, alcoholic landscape: instead, he’s cultivated it with a good heart and great imagination. The blooms he raises are full and improbable, as beautiful as they are painful to watch. In giving rise to a real writer, May 30, 1983 turns out to have been a lucky day.
— Philadelphia Inquirer

Reading Hunger in America is like looking through a child’s kaleidoscope: the number of colored pieces inside never changes, but one moment they form a star, then with a touch, they form a flower, then change shape again and again to form other designs…. There isn’t one dull character in the book, not one that doesn’t have depth, not one that doesn’t feel real.
— Great Falls Tribune

Cates’s first novel is solid proof that the sparest things can also be the richest… (He’s) taken big risks, both structural and emotional, and has succeeded gloriously, with a plaintive but eloquent song to the abundant impossibilities of connecting despite the tight net of relationships that catches us all.
— Publishers Weekly

David Cates provides an antic roll call of the wanderers and loopy dreamers who have washed up in this bleak spot seeing release from the pain they left at home. Some have come to settle old scores. Some are just stuck here, where America ends. Whatever they had yearned to find, most—like Bogart’s Rick Blaine—were misinformed.
— Boston Globe

"Jack Dempsey Cliff sits in cab sixteen outside the Beachcomber Bar watching two teenage Filipino boys wander out the door carrying spaghetti on paper plates. It's May 30, Memorial Day, 1983, the evening of the day before Jack's thirtieth birthday, the evening of the day before his namesake dies. Tomorrow the man on the radio will announce that teeth rot, gums bleed, pipes rust, hairs falls out, bones--and even rocks--crumble. His voice will tremble with the weight of such bottom-line simplicity, such ultimate fact: Jack Dempsey, age 87, one of the greatest champions of all time, is dead today in New York City. He'll be sure to lay it on thick because death is his big schtick and only truth, this man on the radio. He won't let an opportunity like this pass by."

Read the first two chapters of Hunger in America

Publisher's Weekly Cates's first novel is solid proof that the sparest things can also be the richest...

Tom De Haven, New York Times This is a fine work of fiction by a serious and very gifted writer...

Christine Vogel, Chicago Sun-Times A multilayered odyssey, it is a profound exploration of life's uncertainty and the nature of spiritual hunger...

Todd Grimson, Los Angeles Times David Cates' first novel, once read, becomes even more mysterious and haunting upon contemplation. The riddle of fate is beautifully posed.

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