“Each of us came with a past attached, like a wagon or a bindle or a hump.” In Kathryn Davis’s eighth novel, The Silk Road (Graywolf Press, 2019), the recollection of this inescapable past is a means by which the main characters—eight siblings with names such as the Astronomer, the Botanist, the Cook, and the Geographer—examine their memories of childhood and is integral to how their futures will unfold. Each character’s journey meanders and doubles back onto itself like a labyrinth, sometimes intertwining with another’s, and as the story progresses, the gradual recombining and layering of past memories sheds light on the shifting and ephemeral nature of all trajectories. Write a story that revolves around a small group of characters whose pasts are connected. How does the weight of each person’s past eventually prove to have immense bearing on the present and future of everyone in the group?
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