Emily Ruskovich’s psychological murder mystery novel “Idaho” is one of the most acclaimed books set in the state to come along in years.
The book was chosen as Idaho’s Book of the Year and won a Pacific Northwest Book Award. The New York Times named it one of the 17 most anticipated books in 2017.
Next week, Ruskovich will tour the region as part of the Everybody Reads program. No doubt questions will come up about her ties to the state she set the novel in. Ruskovich grew up in the St. Joe National Forest, south of St. Maries, on Hoodoo Mountain. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she teaches creative writing at Boise State University and lives in Idaho City with her husband and daughter.
In a preview of her appearances, she answered these questions for Inland 360.
Your dark and dramatic novel is set in some small and isolated communities in northern Idaho. Why did you choose “Idaho” as the title of the novel? How does the setting play into your work?
I chose “Idaho” as a title because it felt like so much more than a setting; it felt like the lifeblood of the novel, the very breath of the characters. There is also a passage in the novel about where the name comes from, and that mysterious nature of Idaho’s name also felt thematically in tune with my story in a very eerie way that I only discovered very late in the process, after I had already named my book “Idaho.”
Some of the questions raised in your novel don’t have clear-cut endings. Have you heard from readers who wanted more clearly defined answers? How does ambiguity play a role in your work?
Yes, I have received many letters from readers wanting to know what happened and why. But I don’t feel that my novel is about the “what” or the “why” or even the “how.” It’s about finding some kind of peace even when there are no answers. I felt this was the most honest way of telling this story.
Which authors have influenced you most as a writer? Any from Idaho?
Yes, Marilynne Robinson has had a profound influence on me, and she is from Idaho. I also deeply admire Boise author Anthony Doerr, though I did not begin reading him until later in my life.
Other authors that have influenced me: Alice Munro, Kazuo Ishiguro, John Steinbeck, Richard Adams, Toni Morrison.
IF YOU GO
Emily Ruskovich, author of the award-winning novel “Idaho” will be touring area libraries and bookstores Monday, Nov. 5, through next Thursday, Nov. 8, as part of the community reading program, Everybody Reads.
Dates are as follows:
Noon, Lewiston City Library
7 p.m., Asotin County Library, Clarkston
1 p.m. And Books Too, 918 Sixth St., Clarkston (book signing)
7 p.m., Prairie River Library District, Nezperce
Noon, Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, Uniontown
7 p.m., Latah County Library at the 1912 Center, 412 E. Third St., Moscow
Noon, Whitman County Library, Colfax, RSVP for $13 lunch at (509) 397-4366
7 p.m., Neill Public Library, Pullman