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This Other Eden

This Other Eden

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

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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Author

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.

Reviews

“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)