Skylight Books is thrilled to host Susan Straight for the launch of MECCA!

*Please note: masks are required to enter the store, attend the event, and approach the signing table. We encourage event attendees to be vaccinated or tested in advance of the event! 

Mecca (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

From the National Book Award finalist Susan Straight, Mecca is a stunning epic tracing the intertwined lives of native Californians fighting for life and land

Johnny Frías has California in his blood. A descendant of the state’s Indigenous people and Mexican settlers, he has Southern California’s forgotten towns and canyons in his soul. He spends his days as a highway patrolman pulling over speeders, ignoring their racist insults, and pushing past the trauma of his rookie year, when he killed a man assaulting a young woman named Bunny, who ran from the scene, leaving Johnny without a witness. But like the Santa Ana winds that every year bring the risk of fire, Johnny’s moment of action twenty years ago sparked a slow-burning chain of connections that unites a vibrant, complex cast of characters in ways they never see coming.

In Mecca, the celebrated novelist Susan Straight crafts an unforgettable American epic, examining race, history, family, and destiny through the interlocking stories of a group of native Californians all gasping for air. With sensitivity, furor, and a cinematic scope that captures California in all its injustice, history, and glory, she tells a story of the American West through the eyes of the people who built it—and continue to sustain it. As the stakes get higher and the intertwined characters in Mecca slam against barrier after barrier, they find that when push comes to shove, it’s always.

Susan Straight is the author of several novels, including the national bestseller Highwire Moon, a finalist for the National Book Award, and A Million Nightingales, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, as well as the memoir In the Country of Women, named a best book of 2019 by NPR and Real Simple. She is the recipient of the Edgar Award for Best Short Story, the O. Henry Prize, the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, Granta, Harper’s, and elsewhere. She was born and continues to live in Riverside, California, with her family, where she serves as Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside.

Ivy Pochoda is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Wonder Valley, Visitation Street and most recently These Women which was a The New York Times best thriller of 2020. These Women was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, The Edgar Award, the California Book Award, The Macavity Award, and the International Thriller Writers Award. Wonder Valley won the 2018 Strand Critics Award for Best
Novel and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and France’s Le Grand Prix de Litterature Americaine. Visitation Street won the Prix Page America in France. Her books have been widely translated. Her first novel, The Art of Disappearing was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times & The Los Angeles Review of Books. She teaches creative writing at the Studio 526 Skid Row.

Praise for Mecca -

"The author’s love of the Inland Empire and its people shines through on every page, and there is a Didionesque quality to Straight’s depiction of SoCal characters living in the shadow of prejudice and poverty, but in place of Didion’s free-floating anomie there is fierce compassion. This evokes the best California fiction." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Mecca is a masterpiece. So elegant and beautiful, but muscled with the blood of the past—and its echoes to all things—in a sun-bleached future. Susan Straight conjures the dusty back roads and arroyos of a California where destiny is as fraught as the desert flowers on the side of the 10 freeway. This is a wonderful book." —Michael Connelly

"Against the alternating currents of boosterism and doom-speak so often associated with California, Susan Straight's Mecca focuses on the people who don’t usually appear in literary and cinematic depictions of a place so big it could be a country. A heartbreaker from beginning to end, Mecca both shocks and moves in its powerful and unrelenting portrait of this sunny, fiery state." —Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and The Committed

"The grasslands and desert, the endless blue skies torn by the Santa Ana winds and the fires that will burn it all away. Susan Straight has written a hymn to all that have called the Golden State home. Spoken in a multitude of languages, Mecca is about America's dream and finding the perilous pathways through its history." —Walter Mosley

"Mecca is beautiful, richly layered and full of a California that feels uniquely itself—but also as a stand-in for the richness of American history and our cultural mélange." —Attica Locke, author of Heaven, My Home

"Susan Straight writes like a dream. In Mecca the landscapes and the passions of California come vividly and unforgettably to life, adding another triumph to her oeuvre, and one more gift to the literature of the West. Once again, Straight shines a light on the people at the margins of our seemingly prosperous country, illuminating their lives with her boundless empathy." —Héctor Tobar, author of The Last Great Road Bum

Mecca is an essential California epic—layered and vibrant—that is as anchored in the past as it is alive to the present. Susan Straight’s novel amplifies voices too often unheard and conjures an unforgettable vision of the golden state both heartbreaking and glorious that is destined to be canonical.” —Ivy Pochoda, author of These Women

"Mecca blows out of the California mountains and deserts with the scorching power of the Santa Ana fire winds. Susan Straight never lags in her deft portrait of the heart of the drylands of Southern California, far from beaches and Hollywood. This book speeds down the freeway like the motorcycles of her Highway Patrolman hero." —Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels

“Susan Straight knows intimately the So-Cal terrain, dry, fiery, and windy, as well as its extraordinarily beautiful weirdness. With this novel Straight invites you into its wondrous snare.” —Luis J. Rodriguez, author of From Our Land to Our Land

"Susan Straight’s page-turner of a novel Mecca corrals contemporary Southern California life while simultaneously allowing readers to see previously invisible histories. Straight’s remarkable empathy for all her characters shows her to be a loving novelist, honestly respecting the people she captures so masterfully. Just like the highways and freeways that make up the arteries of California, Straight reminds us of our collective geopolitical bloodlines, and does so with great, imaginative power." —Helena María Viramontes, author of Their Dogs Came with Them

Event date: 
Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Mecca: A Novel By Susan Straight Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374604516
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 15th, 2022

In the Country of Women: A Memoir By Susan Straight Cover Image
ISBN: 9781646220205
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Catapult - August 25th, 2020

Between Heaven and Here By Susan Straight Cover Image
ISBN: 9781938073816
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: McSweeney's - December 31st, 2013

Take One Candle Light a Room: A Novel By Susan Straight Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307477378
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - March 13th, 2012

A Million Nightingales By Susan Straight Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400095599
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - May 8th, 2007

These Women: A Novel By Ivy Pochoda Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062656391
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - April 13th, 2021

Wonder Valley: A Novel By Ivy Pochoda Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062656360
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - July 3rd, 2018

Visitation Street: A Novel By Ivy Pochoda Cover Image
Possibly out of print. Email or call to check availability and price.
ISBN: 9780062249906
Published: Dennis Lehane Books/Ecco - April 15th, 2014

The Art of Disappearing: A Novel By Ivy Pochoda Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312650995
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - September 28th, 2010