A new novel from National Book Award nominee Daniel Gumbiner about a California grape-grower, his family, and the climate disaster that upends their quiet lives.
Since his release from prison after serving an eighteen-month sentence for growing cannabis, Ben Hecht’s life has settled into a familiar routine. On his farm in the foothills of California, he stays busy cultivating a dozen acres of grapes and tending to a flock of mistrustful sheep. Meanwhile, from her desk in their old redwood barn, his novelist wife, Ada, continues to work on what may be her most important book yet. When their only son, Yoel, comes home from Los Angeles for a rare visit, Ben is forced to confront their long troubled relationship, which has continued to degrade in recent years. But before the two of them can truly address their past, a wildfire sweeps through the region, forcing the Hecht family to flee to the coast, and setting into motion a chain of events that will transform them all.
This is a story about grape growing and wine, financial and familial struggles, and the peculiar characters and unlikely heroes one will always find in small-town California. Through the experiences of the Hechts and the escalating challenges that face their community, Fire in the Canyon is an intimate look at the lives of those already living through the climate crisis.
About the Author
Daniel Gumbiner’s first book, The Boatbuilder, was longlisted for the National Book Award and a finalist for the California Book Awards. A 2022–23 Hermitage Fellow, he lives in Oakland, CA, and works as managing editor of The Believer.
"Gumbiner crafts an important story, the fictional equivalent of outdoor warning sirens screaming above smoldering pine trees. An engaging, Steinbeckian look at climate change and its emotional costs." —Kirkus Reviews
"Suspenseful . . . Gumbiner skillfully builds tension as the Hecht family’s hard work in the vineyards plays out, pulling them together, even as they ignore the red-flag fire warnings and face the uncertainty of whether the wine produced will be potentially ruined by smoke taint. Readers will be riveted." —Publishers Weekly
“Daniel Gumbiner is fast becoming a sort of 21st century Steinbeck, authoritatively illuminating life in California, with all its glories and calamity. Filled with vivid characters and deep knowledge of the land, this is a commanding second novel." —Dave Eggers, author of The Circle
“There’s some golden hue or quality that tinges these pages. I have felt for a long time like we need more California novels, and since reading his first novel, more writers like Daniel Gumbiner.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There
"Stunning. Daniel Gumbiner is one of our greatest living writers on and of the American West, and this book is a thing of beauty." —Claire Vaye Watkins, author of I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness