The U.S. Embassy Literature Series
Rebecca Rukeyser reads from The Homestead – a novel in progress
From 1862 to 1986 the Homestead Act allotted 160 acres of land free of charge to any American man who could work the land for five years. The last decades of this Act populated Alaska, a state that still bears the nickname “The Last Frontier.”
Set in the early years of the 21st century, The Homestead looks into the final days of one of these Alaskan homesteads. Having lived on an unpopulated island in the Kodiak archipelago for decades, Lew and Megan Jenkins face economic strain and open their property to tourism. Their “remote lodge” aims to give vacationers a sense of the real West and the real Alaska—a pristine landscape molded by hard work. But Jenkins’ lodge is failing as a tourist destination and their marriage is dissolving.
Rebecca Rukeyser is a fiction writer, co-founder of the Berlin Writers’ Workshop, and the recipient of a 2018 “Arbeitsstipendium nichtdeutschsprachige Literatur” – Grant for Non-German Literature, awarded by the Berlin Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa. Her work has appeared in such publications as Best American NonRequired Reading, The Massachusetts Review, and ZYZZYVA. She holds an MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches creative writing at Heinrich Heine Universität.