University of Wisconsin Press colophon



University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site



Archive / Fall 2020


“Balkan never flinches from exploring the moral complexity of the choices his characters make. This deeply touching story moves seamlessly between the past and the present, the truth and the need to hide it, and all the while Balkan captivates us with the beauty of his prose.”
—Ed Perlman, Johns Hopkins University

Paris, South Dakota, summer 1976. Fifteen-year-old Lilly is crushed by the news that her mother's boyfriend will become her father, making her feel lonelier and more invisible than ever. That same morning, she runs into Lee, a handsome and mysterious stranger. It isn't long before she takes off with him, deeming it a grand adventure across the Great Plains.

New Orleans, Louisiana, autumn 1992. Fifteen-year-old Lindsey has just learned that her father is not, in fact, dead—but will be shortly if the state of South Dakota has its way. As she and her mother embark on a long bus ride north, Lilly slowly opens up, revealing to her daughter the true story of her past: why she and Lee went on the run, how Lindsey came to be, and the reason Lee is about to be executed for a crime of passion. Independence is an evocative story of true love, youthful mistakes, desperation, and breath-taking betrayal.


Evan Balkan. Photo credit, Name Evan Balkan teaches at the Community College of Baltimore County and is an instructor in the Teaching Writing graduate program at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of a novel, Spitfire, and many short stories and essays.




“From the moment Lee walks onto the first page of this irresistible novel, and into Lilly's life, you know things are headed south. At play here are notions of escaping and returning as acts of reclamation of one's own independence and identity, guided by a masterful storyteller.”
—Gregg Wilhelm, George Mason University



Download Cover: color | b/w

Download Author Photo: color | b/w

Request Review Copy

Request Desk/Exam Copy


Independence: Cover art showing a rain covered window looking out on a blurry landscape of grass and cloudy sky.

Larger images

September 2020
224 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

Book icon
Paper $17.95
ISBN 9780299329143
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
Review Cart