Percival Everett (Faber, £10.99)

Everett tends to set his novels in the west, with light parody his preferred style. In Wounded, he opts for a deeply moving story of intolerance and prejudice. John Hunt, the low-key narrator, is a cowboy, horse trainer and Berkeley-educated art lover who lives quietly in Wyoming - and happens to be black. His wife died in a riding accident and he now lives in self-imposed isolation with his ailing uncle Gus, an ex-jailbird, for company, until he finds himself drawn into an interlinked and escalating series of disasters.

First, the ineffectual ranch hand leaves without any reason, then a gay student is found dead nearby. Hunt is drawn into the search for the murderer. Things get more complicated when David, the gay son of an old college friend, arrives with his lover, a gay activist, and Hunt is caught in the crossfire between David and his homophobic father. Then two bigoted white thugs appear on the scene and racist messages written in blood are discovered in the snowland owned by his Native American neighbours - and David disappears.

"It's okay to love something bigger than yourself without fearing it," Hunt tells David. "I know this is my life and this is my place." So he goes about his everyday tasks: building up his ranch, working with his animals, mending his buildings, cultivating his land, until everything begins to slip away from him.

Even as he clings to his growing affection for Morgan, the woman rancher living nearby, he has to take into account his disturbing feelings about homosexuality and his rising anxiety for Gus who, in turn, tries to hide growing illness, until the final harrowing climax.

Everett, Professor of English at the University of Southern California, has written a modern Western: his spare, unadorned prose, vigorous narrative and images grounded in the home Hunt has created, all add up to a moving story - epitomised by the secret, church-like cave he returns to for its redemptive power, until the moment when his life turns upside-down and he loses his way, like the three-legged coyote he and Gus are raising. Jan Lee