News of the World is my favorite novel of the year, perhaps two or three years. It is about Captain Kidd, as an older gentleman, hired to return a 10 year old girl to her relatives for a $50 gold piece. Johanna was a captive of the Kiowa Indians for 4 years.
In the ensuing years she becomes a Kiowa Indian; eliminating almost everything she knew about her German origin.
Once hired Kep-dun (as Johanna calls him) buys a wagon for traveling. The two begin a journey from town to town while Kidd reads the News of the World, for a dime, to people hungry to hear the News.
At first, Johanna is a handful. But her instinctive trust of Kidd grows with each mile. They bond as a child to a grandfather, while traveling from Wichita Falls to Castroville TX, facing the danger and challenges of the old west.
There is even a shoot-out in the story. (What is a western without one?) During shoot-out Johanna shows her skill as a warrior.
At last, the two reach Johanna’s Tante and Onkle but Johanna’s difficulties are not over. For the dual this is just another obstacle to overcome with wisdom and love.
Reading the story of a captive Indian child is an experience. Johanna’s transformation from a German child to Kiowa child is thorough. She talks, thinks, and acts Kiowa. She resents the changes placed on her.
The style the book is written in is also an experience. Jiles uses minimal punctuation.
News of the World is a National Book Award Finalist and a 2020 film starring Tom Hanks. The movie is based on the book but changed in ways to shorten it and captivate a contemporary audience.
I recommend the book. It is marvelous.
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