Radium by John Enger

The Quinn brothers are wild and rangy, a product of their desperate home town, Radium. When trouble comes, young Billy Quinn takes his kid brother on the road in a daring sprint from the law.

Chosen as featured read for One Book, One North Dakota, December 2022.

Available for purchase at:

Please consider ordering from your local, independent bookstore! Radium is available wholesale from IngramSpark and Baker&Taylor.

Praise for Radium

…a Sam Shepard play with interior monologue, or a Cormac McCarthy novel in the voice of Holden Caulfield.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

A journey of both discovery and pursuit… Radium is an intimate portrait of two boys caught on the wrong side of the American dream.

Kent Nerburn, Neither Wolf Nor Dog

With echoes of Steinbeck and McMurtry, Radium announces a vibrant new voice in American fiction.

Will Weaver, Power & Light

John Enger has created two marvelous characters who might not live according to society’s rules but still get our sympathy. 

Mary Ann Grossman, Pioneer Press

Enger is a modern-day Hemingway or Fitzgerald. If this book isn’t considered a literary classic in fifty years, trust me, I will riot.

Kendall V. Mead, Amazon Review

Enger is a master wordsmith that the world should be paying attention to.

Winter Wolf, Amazon Review


Radium is about two bad-luck brothers from a bad-luck town in the flat farmland of western Minnesota. Jim, the narrator, is fifteen and damaged, the result of a car accident years before that left him with a head injury and a tweaked view of the world. He sees his big brother, Billy Quinn, in near mythic terms. Billy is wild and strong and capable of things other men are not.

They live together in a trailer house on the ditch-side of a beet field until Billy gets into bad trouble, and then they go on the run. That’s what wild young men like Billy—growing up rangy and unsupervised in the desperate middle of this country—do when trouble comes. They run. They drive cars fast. They go west. They live on the lam, always about three days from a federal manhunt.

Laws are broken, but with an older brother his only true friend on earth—a brother he loves more than his own next breath—Jim justifies their deeds, willing to do . . . anything . . . to keep Billy free.

Audio Sample

Listen to a free audio sample below. The audiobook for Radium is currently in development and will be available in 2023. 

Seeking Agent Representation

If you are a literary agent who represents fiction, and you like Enger’s work, contact him with instructions for how he can pitch his book.