2003: Peace Like a River

The Story

PublishPeace Like a Rivered in 2001, this book was well reviewed and went on to become a paperback bestseller. Publishers Weekly called Peace Like a River “a stunning debut novel,” and it was named among the best books for 2001 by Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times. It won the BookSense Book of the Year Award from the Independent Booksellers of America and was given the Alex Award by the American Library Association for best adult fiction for teen readers. It was on the New York Times and numerous other bestseller’s lists, and movie rights were purchased. It is a book discussion favorite for groups around the country and was the choice for “All Iowa Reads 2003”, “One City One Story 2003” (Pasadena, CA) and was the choice for the 2004 “If all of Rochester Read the Same Book.”

What a great way to start an area book discussion program. Enger’s novel presented readers with many issues to think about and discuss, including faith, family loyalty, justice, and the joy of reading and sharing a good story.

About the Author
Leif Enger

LiefEngerPeace Like a River was written for the Enger family to enjoy, and was not initially intended for publication. Indeed, Leif admitted that he didn’t think the story had any commercial possibilities and certainly never thought that it would be the “fodder of a giant media blitz.” Yet, after he found an agent, and the manuscript was submitted to publishers, five publishers made offers for it within two days-simply unheard of for a first novelist in the publishing world. His publisher at Grove/Atlantic felt it had the makings of an “instant classic.”

During his talks to readers in the three county area, Leif discussed the people who influenced and encouraged his reading and ultimately, his writing. He talked about how certain events in his life as well as family stories appeared in the novel, and he discussed themes and the fact that he didn’t think about themes when he was writing; he was primarily writing an adventure to keep the attention of his young sons, but themes did emerge, as they tend to do with any story well told. He quoted author Jon Hasler, who says that fiction is completed by readers, not by the author himself.

Audiences enjoyed this sincere author and his story. The issues of faith and miracles elicited many responses from readers, which often surprised and puzzled them. As Reuben would say, “Make of it what you will.”

Read The Daily News Profile story on Leif Enger


2011 Update

More than a decade since Enger’s best-selling debut novel, “Peace Like a River” (2001), was published, the novel remains a hot property.

Talk of a movie adaptation has resurfaced. Tate Taylor, writer-director of the acclaimed adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-seller “The Help,” is the latest to circle the novel. Taylor, when interviewed in mid-December by The Envelope, an entertainment awards blog of the Los Angeles Times, after Golden Globes nominations were announced said he was holedup up in a cabin in Martha’s Vineyard writing an adaptation of “Peace Like a River” for DreamWorks.

The mystical novel, the story of turbulent few months in the life of a father and his three children after one of their children shoots two neighborhood bullies, was also included on a list of 30 books that will be given away across America in April as part of the U.S.’s first celebration of World Book Night. The project’s goal is to get books in the hands of people who are underserved because of income, location of other reasons. Find details at www.us.worldbooknight.org .

And “Peace Like a River” is getting a reissue. Look for it in September.

Click here to see photos from the author’s visit

Other Works by this Author

So Brave, Young, and Handsome. Atlantic Monthly Press. April 2008. A tale about a failed novelist who befriends an aging train robber.

2010 Update

Enger’s follow-up to Peace, “So Brave, Young and Handsome” (Atlantic Monthly Press), was published in May 2008″I’m glad to finally get another book out,” Enger says, acknowledging a couple of false starts before “finally settling on this character that appeared to me sort of out of the mist.”
> “So Brave …” is a story of redemption, love and a chase, as an old
train robber is confronted by his conscience and tries to reconcile with
the wife he left decades ago. But when he comes out of hiding, his old
nemesis – a character based on a real-life Pinkerton detective – is in
> GONE HOLLYWOOD: A film adaptation of Peace Like a River remains in

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