This Other Eden
‘Masterful . . . [This Other Eden] has much to say to our times.’ Guardian
‘A testament of love . . . so real it could make you weep.’ Danez Smith, New York Times
‘A luminous, thought-provoking novel.’ Esi Edugyan, author of Washington Black
Set at the beginning of the twentieth century and inspired by historical events, This Other Eden tells the story of Apple Island: an enclave off the coast of the United States where waves of castaways – in flight from society and its judgment – have landed and built a home.
Benjamin Honey- American, Bantu, Igbo- born enslaved- freed or fled at fifteen- aspiring orchardist, arrived on the island with his Irish wife, Patience, and discovered they could make a life together there. More than a century later, the Honeys’ descendants remain, with an eccentric, diverse band of neighbours. Then comes the intrusion of ‘civilization’: officials determine to ‘cleanse’ the island, and a missionary schoolteacher selects one light-skinned boy to save. The rest will succumb to the authorities’ institutions or cast themselves on the waters in a new Noah’s Ark.
Full of lyricism and power, Paul Harding’s This Other Eden explores the hopes and dreams and resilience of those seen not to fit a world brutally intolerant of difference.
‘Harding invites comparisons with authors such as William Faulkner, Robinson and even Elizabeth Strout . . . This Other Eden . . . begs to be widely read.’ Spectator
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 - especially that of Ethan Honey, spared a destructive fate because of his artistic gifts and his fair skin - 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 A special book by a rare writer. -- Rachel Seiffert, author of A Boy in Winter The pace of Harding's storytelling is stately, his descriptions, even of small events, gorgeous . . . This Other Eden is beautiful and agonizing?rather like the real place that inspired it. -- Claire Messud, author of The Emperor's Children and The Woman Upstairs * Harper's * 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 Harding is an extraordinary writer, for the intoxicating power of his prose, the range of his imagination, and above all for the redemptive humanity of his vision. * Financial Times *
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