A 1000-year-old Viking is discovered frozen on the slopes of Mt. Hood, Oregon – three thousand miles further west than any previously known European Viking-Age exploration.
While the world is focused on this remarkable discovery, Josh Kinninger’s world is falling apart. Three personal tragedies have left him bitterly angry and emotionally unmoored. Inspired by the Viking discovery, Josh plans a desperate western journey of his own to wreak a bizarre vengeance on the morally corrupt individuals who have piqued his ire.
Josh, however, isn’t the only Kinninger who tries to run away from his problems – and the problems of his country – by heading west.
By turns comic and tragic, W weaves several stories and styles into a rich literary fabric.
In addition to the story of how that Viking comes to reside in Oregon, there is the story of Josh’s ancestor, Jefferson, who in 1860 embarks on a journey by wagon train along the Oregon Trail to escape the violent strife preceding the Civil War.
And then there is the story of Jefferson’s namesake descendant, who, one hundred years later, takes off westward to escape the racism of the Jim Crow South and to make a new life in San Francisco as a jazz musician.