miami university


Camp Olvido


Lawrence Coates

October 2015. ISBN 978-1-88116-357-2

Winner of the 2015 Novella Prize

In the California heartland in 1932, at a
migrant labor camp whose very name means forgotten, a child's sudden illness leads to
tensions between workers wishing to break
camp and the land barons enforcing their
contracts. Into this dispute Esteban Alas
—contrabandista and self-styled businessman
—is reluctantly drawn as a mediator, until
an act of violence forces him into a more
tragic role.

Reviews & Such

Joe Plicka reviewed Coates' recent work,
including Camp Olvido, for the Summer
2016 issue of Western American Literature:
"Coates boils the fear, greed, ignorance, and desperation of an entire society down into
these characters with his hard, gleaming

Rain Taxi reviewed Camp Olvido in May 2016:
"A 'child stalked by death' and an incidental act
of kindness in a world without it drives the

David Abrams included Camp Olvido
in his "Best Novellas of 2015" list on his blog, The Quivering Pen: "Camp Olvido stunned me into silence. I sat there with this universe in my hand for the longest time."

John Taylor recommended Camp Olvido in the December 2015 edition of Midwest
Book Review
: "A fully absorbing novella by a true master of the storytelling arts."

Library Journal reviewed Camp Olvido calling it a "starkly beautiful work [which] delivers a sense of entrapment most of us can barely imagine," in "Top Fall Indie Fiction: Best Bets Beyond the Big-House Titles" on October 29, 2015.

Camp Olvido is everything a novella should be—intense as it is resonant, propulsive as it
is deep—but, even more than a shining example of the form, it is simply a great story. I haven’t read anything as powerful about pickers and California since I read John Steinbeck. Lawrence Coates writes with every bit as much tenderness and compassion,
but this moving novella—full of characters I won’t forget and images I can’t—is cut with a
clear-eyed, brutal honesty that gives it a hard-won wisdom and beauty all its own."—Josh Weil, author of The New Valley: Novellas

“[A] stunning exploration of one man's bold actions and their consequences. Gorgeously written, the novella shows the dark side of California's prosperity, with violence and, unexpectedly, elements of the divine. A superb addition to a distinguished series.”—Cary Holladay, author of A Fight in the Doctor's Office and Horse People: Stories

“I have rarely read a novella so rich, with the moral complexities of Melville’s Billy Budd and the social and visual acuity of a film like Buñuel’s Los olvidados . . . Read Camp Olvido, a masterful work of fiction, as provocative as it is jaw-dropping in its beauty.”—Wendell Mayo, author of The Cucumber King of Kedainiai

“In Camp Olvido, Lawrence Coates paints a sensual and humane picture of life and death in a depression-era work camp peopled by Latino fieldworkers . . . showing not only the sorrow of endemic poverty and powerlessness but the love and good humor of a community that can endure.”—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters and Once Upon a River

About the Author

Photo of Lawrence Coates
Lawrence Coates is the author of four novels, most recently The Goodbye House. He has received such honors as the Western States Book Award in Fiction and an NEA Fellowship in Fiction. He teaches Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University.