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This Other Eden

This Other Eden

226 pages
Published:   March 7, 2023
Fiction  /  Novels  /  Historical Fiction
Paperback:   9781773103129    $25.00

Finalist, Booker Prize and National Book Award for Fiction
Longlisted, Dublin Literary Award

One of Barack Obama’s 15 favorite books of 2023 • A New Yorker Best Books of 2023 • An NPR 2023 “Book We Love” Pick and Top 10 Book of 2023 • One of Time’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2023 • One of the New York Times’s 100 Notable Books of 2023 and Best Historical Fiction of 2023 • A Chicago Public Library Favorite Book of 2023 • A Fresh Air Top 10 Best Book of 2023 • A Publishers Weekly Best Fiction of 2023

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers, a novel inspired by the true story of Malaga Island, an isolated island off the coast of Maine that became one of the first racially integrated communities.

In 1792, formerly enslaved Benjamin Honey and his Irish wife, Patience, discovered an island where they could make a life together. More than a century later, the Honeys’ descendants remain on Apple Island, with an eccentric, diverse band of neighbours: a pair of sisters raising three Penobscot orphans; Theophilus and Candace Lark and their nocturnal brood; and the prophetic Zachary Hand to God Proverbs, a Civil War veteran who lives in a hollow tree.

Then comes the intrusion of “civilization”: eugenics-minded state officials decide to “cleanse” the island, and a missionary-schoolteacher selects one light-skinned boy to save. The rest will be left to succumb to institutions or cast themselves on the waters in a new Noah’s Ark.

In prose of transcendent beauty and power, Paul Harding has written a mesmerizing story that explores the hopes, the dreams, and the resilience of those perceived not to fit in a world brutally intolerant of difference.
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Paul Harding is the author of Tinkers and Enon. He teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing and Literature at Stony Brook University and lives on Long Island, New York.


Shortlisted: Booker Prize
Shortlisted: National Book Award for Fiction
Longlisted: Dublin Literary Award


“In boldly lyrical prose, This Other Eden shows us a once-thriving racial utopia in its final days, at a time when race and science were colliding in chilling ways. In the stories of the Apple Islanders, we are made to confront the ambiguous nature of mercy, the limits of tolerance, and what it means to truly be saved. A luminous, thought-provoking novel.” — Esi Edugyan, author of Washington Black

“There is no writer alive anything like Paul Harding, and This Other Eden proves it: astonishingly beautiful, humane, strange, interested in philosophy and the heart, stunningly written. It’s about home, love, heredity, cruelty, and the very nature of art, so completely original it’s hard to know how to describe it in a mere blurb, by which I mean: you must read this book.” — Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Souvenir Museum

“Tender, magical, and haunting, Paul Harding’s This Other Eden is that rare novel that makes profound claims on our present age while being, very simply, a graceful performance of language and storytelling. Here is prose that touchingly holds its imagined island community in a light that can only be described as generous and dazzling. I have not read a novel this achingly beautiful in a while, nor one in which the fate of its characters I will not soon forget.” — Major Jackson, author of The Absurd Man

“This gorgeously limned portrait about family bonds, the loss of innocence, the insidious effects of racism, and the innate worthiness of individual lives will resonate long afterward.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Harding’s close-third narration gives shape and weight to the community members’ complicated feelings about their displacement, while his magisterial prose captures a sense of place.” — Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Harding summons up lyrical sheets of prose, including one of the most evocative descriptions of a lobster dinner you’re likely to encounter. He has an eye for a striking image... It’s a brief book that carries the weight of history.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“You could imagine lots of ways a historical novel about this horror might be written, but none of them would give you a sense of the strange spell of This Other Eden — its dynamism, bravado and melancholy.” — NPR

This Other Eden is ultimately a testament of love: love of kin, love of nature, love of art, love of self, love of home. Harding has written a novel out of poetry and sunlight, violent history and tender remembering.” — New York Times

“Harding has a gift for using language with intense precision that evokes his characters’ points of view.” — Boston Globe

“Harding’s finely wrought prose shows us a community that refuses to see itself through the judgmental eyes of others, a society composed of people who give their neighbors the same latitude to go their own way that they claim for themselves.” — Washington Post

“The novel impresses time and again because of the depth of Harding’s sentences, their breathless angelic light.” — Abhrajyoti Chakraborty, The Guardian

This Other Eden is a story of good intentions, bad faith, worse science, but also a tribute to community and human dignity and the possibility of another world. In both, it has much to say to our times.” — Rachel Seiffert, The Guardian

“Harding’s luscious, perfectly knit narrative delivers a sober understanding of human nature and racial hatred.” — Library Journal

“A lyrical, powerful ode to resiliency and the strength of family.” — Bangor Daily News

“This is a novel about race, poverty, loyalty and betrayal, the horrors of eugenic science, and the cruelty of the powerful. All of those themes are present. But beyond that, it is a narrative whose poetry and imagery shed light on the inner lives of people with whom readers have nearly nothing, and nearly everything, in common.” — Christian Century

This Other Eden is not just a historical novel; it is a lyrical exploration of resilience, loss, and the complexities of the human experience.” — Gulf News

“Every now and then a novelist comes along whose unique voice grips us from the first page — Cormac McCarthy, Marilynne Robinson, Brian Doyle come quickly to mind for me — and now I’ll add Paul Harding, who, in This Other Eden, hooks us from the first paragraph with a description of an island so vivid it isn’t until the last sentence of the novel that you can let yourself float away.” — Reformed Journal

“Harding uses his skill with the written word to interweave historical facts, events and unforgettable characters into a memorable, soul-shattering story of man’s inhumanity to mankind.” — The Inquirer and Mirror