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Rough Magic - Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race - cover

Rough Magic - Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race

Lara Prior-Palmer

Publisher: Catapult

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After entering the world’s longest horse race on a whim, nineteen-year-old Lara Prior-Palmer surprises everyone—including herself—by winning, becoming the youngest person and the first woman to do so
Rough Magic is a powerful and poetic debut of personal exploration, determination, resilience, competition, and youthful abandon; with cinematic skill, the memoir transports the reader to the unforgiving beauty of the Mongolian Steppe and introduces an array of charming competitors (including one particular rival, a twenty-year-old Texan named Devan) 
Lara reaches for poetry and Shakespeare’s The Tempest to ground herself as she pushes through pounding rain, hunger, thirst, physical pain, and more to the finish line—Lara's competitive streak ignited by Devan’s intimidating bravado, and fueled in equal parts by her own fear and awe 
Typically, when we read a story this sensational, the writing takes a back seat to the story. But while Lara is a propulsive storyteller, she is also a truly talented writer; many passages of this book beg to be read aloud with their lilting, lyrical imagery—as the best adventure epics have always been told
In a remarkably understated moment in the book, Prior-Palmer reveals that she has cancer, and the author continues to receive treatment for her cancer today; as such, there is an added sense of urgency, joy, and survival that pulses through Rough Magic
Perfectly capturing the restlessness and larger-than-life emotion and ambition of young adulthood (in a far more dramatic arena than most), Rough Magic has enormous book club, film option, and YA crossover potential 
The author graduated from Stanford University in California, and will be over in the United States for Winter Institute 14 in Albuquerque, NM, in January 2019
Watch Lara Prior-Palmer describe the race in her “How to Win the World’s Toughest Horse Race” TEDx Talk: She’s also featured in an ABC documentary about the race (though her story itself was never widely covered in North America):

Select Bookseller Praise for Rough Magic
"Rough Magic is full of deep and ancient insights—I was awed by the profundity of Lara Prior-Palmer's observations, by the way she writes with such precision while leaving room for life's vagaries. And it was really, really funny, actual LOL funny. This book is a roaring wild wonder." —Sarah Malley, Newtonville Books (Newton, MA) 
"Rough Magic is propelled by the thrill of the Mongol Derby race, yes, but even more so by Prior-Palmer’s rollicking wit and uncanny wisdom. Her sentences are sharp, tart, and brimming with a delightful curiosity; she is preternaturally comfortable with being unsettled, analyzing herself and her surroundings even as she resists easy conclusions. 'Why do we push ourselves?' she asks. 'Perhaps not just for competition, but for our causeless passions.' A spirited work of travel writing, memoir, and adventure from a bright and exciting young writer." —Daley Farr, Milkweed Books (Minneapolis, MN)
"Lara Prior-Palmer's journey in the Mongol Derby is one of excitement, pain, and profound inner dialogue. There was not a moment in this fast-paced memoir where my attention wavered. Lara weaves a coming-of-age tale with expert grace and worldly knowledge alongside an intensely riveting competition against herself, the land, and a leader who seems to be nothing more than a foreboding whisper lingering just over the horizon. Rough Magic is a fantastically written and introspective memoir, worthy of great praise." —Travis McGuire, Skylark Bookshop (Columbia, MO)
"Sometimes choosing an adventure on a whim can result in an extraordinary story to tell, and Lara Prior-Palmer has written about her experience in Mongolia, competing in the world's longest, toughest horse race, in an extraordinary way. Rough Magic is written with such elegance, and truly conveys the passion needed for such a crazy and thrilling competition. Prior-Palmer's desire to just participate is soon replaced with the desire to win, and the reader is swept up in the drama of the British girl trying to win it all at the age of nineteen. Even if you don't ride horses, such as myself, you will feel a desire to jump on a pony, ride through the desert, and be one of the lone travelers that 'move inside silences, silences packed with unspoken thoughts and secrets.'" —Marlene Craig, The Well-Read Moose (Coeur d'Alene, ID)
"The subject matter of this book alone is enough to convince people to read it. Couple that with some really beautiful writing, and you've got yourself an absolutely compelling read to the very end." —Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver, Bookseller (Savannah, GA)
"Even though you know how it ends, Lara Prior-Palmer's story kept me tearing through the pages, eager to read every word of her extraordinary journey. She captures the magic of riding and her surroundings as well as the stark loneliness of the race in her beautiful poetic prose. " —Lauren Sommer, Village Books (Bellingham, WA)
"Like the wild ponies she rides in the ‘world’s longest and toughest horse race,’ Lara Prior-Palmer’s language changes pace from a breathless canter to a meditative walk at unpredictable intervals. The resulting effect is, indeed, Rough Magic, whether you are into adventure yourself or prefer the comforts of home."  —Jill Hendrix, Fiction Addiction (Greenville, SC)
"Wow this is terrific—propulsive and yet also touched with wonderful observation and self-reflection. To my mind, the best thing since Strayed's Wild around risk taking and self-exploration by taking on something physical in the great outdoors to find out what you can do and a bit of who you are. The Mongolian setting only adds to interest! Definitely a 'can't put down' kind of story." —Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books (Sebastopol, CA)
"I read this with my jaw on the floor, repeatedly saying to myself, 'This can't be real; she didn't really ride across Mongolia on horseback.' Her strength and courage are inspiring. Prior-Palmer deftly weaves memoir, travelogue, history, and sport to create one of the most entertaining books I've read this year." —Lesley Rains, City of Asylum Bookstore (Pittsburgh, PA)
"What amazed me about Rough Magic was that despite my already knowing Lara Prior-Palmer won a grueling horse race across Mongolia, I greedily rode along with her, ever curious as to how she accomplished it.  Yeah, her winning the race was an phenomenal achievement, but as a reader, to have an author reveal her story's final outcome at the very start yet hold you in suspense throughout her narration is an incredible feat." —Jeanette Boyer, Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle's Children's Books (Mendocino, CA)
"I just love this title, and I know quite a few customers who will be just as excited. Smart readers of H Is for Hawk and Wild will love this!" —Laura Taylor, Oxford Exchange (Tampa, FL)

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