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Vlautin’s first novel, The Motel Life was first published by Faber and Faber in 2006, and then by Harper Perennial in 2007. It has since been published in eleven languages. A hard luck story about two brothers living in motels in Reno, The Motel Life earned Vlautin the title “the Dylan of the dislocated” (The Independent), plus literary comparisons to Steinbeck, Carver, Fante, and Denis Johnson.

The Motel Life won the Nevada Silver Pen Award in 2007 and made several top ten lists in the States and abroad. It was one of the few works of fiction to make the Washington Post Media Mix’s Top 25 Books of 2007.

Adapted as a major motion picture in 2013, The Motel Life took home three awards from the Rome International Film Festival, including the Audience Choice Award. The film stars Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, and Dakota Fanning, and features dazzling animation by Mike Smith. The New York Times called it “an outlaw-country ballad… the performances and ambience resonate” and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone deemed it “striking… tinged with humor and heartbreaking”.

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“If there’s any justice, anywhere, The Motel Life will be widely read and widely admired.”
Thomas Gaughan, Booklist

“Slighter than Carver, less puerile than Bukowski, Vlautin nevertheless manages to lay claim to the same bleary-eyed territory, and surprisingly — perhaps even unintentionally — to make it new.”
John Wray, New York Times

“A hugely compassionate, wildly original road movie of a novel”
Esquire (London)

“Full of tenderness, truth, and life. I haven’t read a novel this good in a long, long time.”
Guillermo Arriaga, writer of Babel and 21 Grams

“A very fine novel. Writers of this quality—courageous, powerful, wonderfully compassionate—are rare, and need to be treasured.”
John Burnside, author of The Dumbhouse