- Paperback: 330 pages
- Published: 1/1/04
- IBSN: 9781888451504
- Genre: Fiction
Shiflett’s suspenseful and provocative literary debut, set in Chicago and Puerto Escondido, a small Mexican beach town 150 miles south of Acapulco.
Included in Library Journal‘s “Summer Highs, Fall Firsts,” a 2004 list of most successful debuts.
“Intriguing and absorbing. Shiflett has a powerful eye for characters and how the stubbornness, vanity, and fears of ordinary people can precipitate a descent into hell . . . Story-telling of the highest order.”
—Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting
“Shiflett resists taming his characters, lets them burn in the brambles, in the heat of Mexico. They grow and they learn. We grow and we learn.”
—Carolyn Chute, author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine
“An important book, a universal story. Shiflett brilliantly melds literary concerns with page turning suspense. The result is an absolute knockout.”
—Don De Grazia, author of American Skin
“With its exploration of racism, American jingoism, dysfunctional families, and lost love, this work is moving, suspenseful, funny, thoughtful, and sad. It will appeal to a wide range of readers . . .”
Hidden Place is Shiflett’s suspenseful and provocative literary debut, set in Chicago and Puerto Escondido, a small Mexican beach town 150 miles south of Acapulco. Told in a strong vernacular voice, the story focuses on six major characters, all of them highly flawed and uncomfortably real. The narrator, Roman Pearson, and his girlfriend, Mila Popovic, take a vacation together to Escondido in the hopes of patching up their deteriorating relationship.
In Escondido they become involved in a cultural conflict between the local Indians and the baby-boomer hippies from the US who have overrun the town. One violent act of retribution between the two cultural groups leads to another, and eventually a little girl is accidentally killed. Roman is torn between trying to save his relationship with Mila and turning in the main instigator of the conflict—another gringo from Oklahoma by the name of Jay—to the authorities. To complicate matters, Mila is drawn to Jay and has an affair with him. The story is about Roman’s struggle to find the courage to do the right thing and promote a more respectful coexistence between two divergent communities. It is also about the ever-increasing conflict between the hedonistic “haves” of the first world, and the opportunistic “have nots” of the third world.
SHAWN SHIFLETT is a professor in the Fiction Writing department at Columbia College Chicago. Hidden Place is his first novel; he is working on a second novel, Hey, Liberal, about a white boy in a predominantly African American high school one year after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Shiflett was born and raised in Chicago, and currently lives in La Grange, Illinois with his wife and two children.