Reading: ‘The Ploughmen’ by Kim Zupan

Oct 20, 2014 | Events

Elk River Arts & Lectures will host Missoula author Kim Zupan for a public reading on Thursday, October 30, and a visit with local high school students on Friday, Oct. 31. Zupan’s debut novel, The Ploughmen, is being released this fall to great critical acclaim.

Zupan told one interviewer that he’s thought of himself as a writer for the last 40 years, but had to write The Ploughmen over eight years, three winter months at a stretch. The result is a measured, haunting and spare work that’s been compared to Cormac McCarthy, but is also reminiscent of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio.

In it, Zupan chronicles the insomniac friendship between a Montana sheriff’s deputy and the killer he guards. “What forms the connection initially between Gload and Millimaki,” he says, “is that both of them had been farmers. The book is not a pastoral by any means but neither is the title ironic. Sitting on the plow was for both men restorative and therapeutic. Farming recalls for each of them a time of innocence. The title may rightly conjure a bucolic image, but at the same time it refers to two men for whom violence and death are quotidian aspects of their chosen professions.”

The Library Journal calls The Ploughmen “startling beautiful… emotionally devastating” adding that “this [book] cannot be recommended highly enough.” A reviewer for Booklist writes that “what Zupan offers is a superb, retro prose style, channeling William Faulkner in long passages engorged with vocabulary on what it means to be alive, if barely, in rural Montana circa 1980.”

Zupan will give a public reading on October 30 evening upstairs at Elk River Books, 120 N. Main St. at 7 p.m., then visit with Park High School students the following day. The reading is free and will be followed by a reception and signing. The events are co-sponsored by the Murray Hotel and Elk River Books.

Elk River Arts & Lectures is a non-profit (501c3 status pending) organization that seeks to bring writers to Livingston for free public readings, and also to provide opportunities for those writers to interact with local public school students. ERAL is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to fund its 2014-2015 season. More details are available at


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