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John W. Evans was twenty-nine years old and his wife, Katie, was thirty. They had met in the Peace Corps in Bangladesh, taught in Chicago, studied in Miami, and were working for a year in Romania when they set off with friends to hike into the Carpathian Mountains. In an instant their life together was shattered. Katie became separated from the group. When Evans finally found her, he could only watch helplessly as she was mauled to death by a brown bear.
In such a love story, such a life story, how could a person ever move forward? That is the question Evans, traumatized and restless, confronts in this book as he learns the language of grief, the rhetoric of survival, and the contrary algorithms of holding fast and letting go. His memories of Katie and their time together, and the strangeness of his life with her family in the year after her death, create an unsentimental but deeply moving picture of loss, the brutality of nature, and the unfairness of needing to narrate a story that nothing can prepare a person to tell.
Told with unyielding witness, elegance, and care, Young Widower is a heartbreaking account of a senseless tragedy and the persistence of grief in a young person’s life.
John W. Evans, a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, teaches creative writing at Stanford. His award-winning work appears in Slate, the Missouri Review, ZYZZYVA, and the Rumpus.
“A tragic story told with such grace and artistry that the complex exploration of grief is finally revealed as redemptive. The honesty of John Evans’s writing is unfaltering and deeply impressive.”—Kevin Casey, author of A State of Mind
“This book brims with unforgettable images and moments, but Evans’s greatest achievement is allowing readers to see his wife, Katie, as he did—not as a saint or as a martyr, but as a passionate and dynamic and flawed woman whom he deeply loved.”—Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun