David Rowell's debut novel, The Train of Small Mercies, puts public and personal timelines alongside each other as he recounts June 8, 1968. That's the day a train made a slow, momentous journey from New York to Washington, D.C., to deliver the body of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy for burial beside his slain brother.
Millions of people lined the route. It was the dead middle of an earth-shaking year that had already seen mounting losses in Vietnam, an American president decline to run, a hero martyred when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, chaos, riots and songs. All of the characters in this novel are touched by the times, but also mark them in different, intimate ways.