This striking debut novel is an intensely powerful story of imprisonment, both behind walls and within the personal confines of human relationships. Shepherdsville, East Texas, is a town defined--architecturally, financially, and socially--by its state penitentiaries, among them the bleak Hope Prison Farm. It's a town where virtually every inhabitant is either an inmate or a prison employee, a town where crime literally pays. Shepherdsville's two most famous citizens are Sonny Hope, its larger-than-life prison director, and Hadrian Coleman, its most notorious convict. Their friendship since boyhood has followed a pattern of mutual dependence, keeping them at once in collusion and on opposite sides of the law. At age fifteen, introspective and emotionally vulnerable, Hadrian killed a man and was sentenced to fifty years at Hope Farm. However, twenty years later, he achieves the unthinkable and escapes from the prison. After years of life on the run, he's summoned back to Shepherdsville to receive a full governor's pardon secured by Sonny, who now runs the prison and, by extension, the town. Hadrian knows that Sonny's motives are not entirely clean, that this is a favor that will require something in return. When the nature of that payment is finally made clear, he must determine who really owes what to whom and whether carrying out Sonny's demand will result in a lifetime spent in his power. As Hadrian vacillates between loyalty to his friend and the struggle to do right, he is pulled toward a final showdown with Sonny--a crisis that will not only change the lives of the two men but also finally free Hadrian from Shepherdsville and from his past. Hadrian's Wallswon the Steven Turner Award, given by The Texas Institute of Letters for the best first work of fiction.
New York : Knopf, 1999.
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