Spotlight on Alaska Books: Traveling with Spirits, by Valerie Miner

January, 2001, New Delhi

Crowds of savvy people weave confidently through the thick,
smoky atmosphere of
Indira Gandhi International Airport. Monica is as
star­tled as a body can be at 11:30 p.m., after 19 hours of travel. Desperate
for air and space after the marathon flight in her small, stuffy seat, she’s
overwhelmed by the viscous, jostling environment of the vast terminal. Muslim
men in succinct knitted caps bustle past Sikhs in the urgent baggage room
turmoil. Women hurry, too, looking astonishingly fresh in vivid saris and
salwar kameezes: pulsing blue, alarming chartreuse, beaming yellow. In
contrast, the few Westerners appear pretty ragged—the denim backpackers and the
suited executives—with tousled hair and grey faces.
(Traveling with Spirits, by Valerie Miner)
Traveling With Spirits is a exciting, nuanced novel about an unpredictable
journey across continents, cultures and values.  This is a story of deep,
abiding friendship, surprising romance, political conspiracy, physical challenge
and emotional courage.   Monica
Murphy quits her
Minneapolis medical practice to work at
Catholic medical mission in a decaying Indian hill station in Uttar
Pradesh.  She confronts challenges to her faith, her intentions and about
the nature of her contributions.
Monica struggles with the loss of those dearest to her and
winds up finding love in completely unexpected places.  Daily, she is
delighted and confounded by the unpredictability of life in
India. As we follow Monica from
her cutting-edge clinic in
Minnesota to the rudimentary hospital in
Moorty, we meet her devoted friend Beata, her troubled sister Jeanne, her prima
donna colleague Dr. Jill, the deceptively cranky professor Ashok, the
authoritarian colleague Kevin, the challenging teacher Sudha and a range of
other complex, vivid characters who shape her journey and her life.
Once again Valerie Miner tackles serious political and
moral questions while exploring her characters’ lives with wit, compassion and
verve.  Miner is the author of 14 books.  She teaches at the
University of Alaska, Anchorage, MFA Program and at Stanford University.
Advance Praise
“Traveling with Spirits is a provocative, engaging odyssey through northern India and the U.S. Midwest.
 Valerie Miner is brave enough to ask tough questions about religion,
politics, and international aid, generous enough to acknowledge human goodness
alongside human failings.  The result is a vibrant portrait of Monica
Murphy, physician of body and her own soul. I was immediately absorbed by the
novel and found it completely engaging.” Valerie Sayers, author of The
 “Alive with details, wrought with questions of
belief, and riven with the tension of wanting to know where she fits in the
world, Monica’s story is compelling and vivid.” Bret Lott, author of Jewel
Valerie Miner’s 14 books include novels, story collections, essays and a memoir.  Her work has appeared in The Georgia
Review, Triquarterly, Salmagundi, New Letters, Ploughshares, The Village Voice,
Prairie Schooner, The
Gettysburg Review, The T.L.S., The Women’s
Review of Books, The Nation
and other journals.  Her
stories and essays are published in more than 60 anthologies.  A number of her pieces have been dramatized
on BBC Radio 4. Her work has been translated into German, Turkish, Danish,
Italian, Spanish, French, Swedish and Dutch. 
She has won fellowships and awards from The Rockefeller Foundation, The
McKnight Foundation, The NEA, The Jerome Foundation, The Heinz Foundation, The
Australia Council Literary Arts Board, etc. 
She has received Fulbright Fellowships to
Tunisia, India and Indonesia. Winner of a Distinguished Teaching Award, she
teaches at the
University of Alaska, Anchorage MFA program and at Stanford University. 
She has been on the UAA Low Res faculty since the beginning of theprogram.
Traveling with Spirits is available in paperback and hardback.  Soon on Kindle.  All from Livingston Press.
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