Nico Walker — the debut author who is making waves with his novel, Cherry — did not follow a traditional track to publishing his first novel. At the age many young authors would attend writing classes or workshops, Walker served as a medic in Iraq. Later, he’d return to the United States with PTSD and became addicted to heroin—a habit that he supplemented by robbing banks in the Cleveland area. He is now serving 11 years in a Kentucky federal prison for those crimes, where he wrote Cherry on a typewriter.
The book was later sold to Knopf, and movie rights have been acquired by the Russo brothers, who directed Avengers: Infinity War.
The novel seems to fictionalize this experience, pulling the reader into Walker’s gritty worldview with lean, choppy prose that’s comparable to Donald Ray Pollock’s, who also hails from Ohio. The book is a tough read, blending a nameless narrator’s love story with strong imagery of war and addiction, but its critical reception has been strong. Vulture mused that Cherry “might be the first great novel of the opioid epidemic.”
Put Cherry on hold today.