Euphoria

Euphoria

3.9 22
by Lily King
     
 

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A New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize

Winner of the 2014 New England Book Award for Fiction

A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

A Best Book of the Year for:

New York Times Book Review, Time, NPR, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, Vogue, New York

Overview


A New York Times Bestseller

Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize

Winner of the 2014 New England Book Award for Fiction

A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

A Best Book of the Year for:

New York Times Book Review, Time, NPR, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, Vogue, New York Magazine, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, Amazon, Publishers Weekly, Our Man in Boston, Oprah.com, Salon

Euphoria is Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the ‘30’s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is "dazzling ... suspenseful ... brilliant...an exhilarating novel.”—Boston Globe

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize

Winner of the 2014 New England Book Award for Fiction

A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award

New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2014; TIME Top 10 Fiction Books of 2014; New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books of 2014; NPR Best Books of 2014; Entertainment Weekly’s 10 Best Fiction Books of 2014; Washington Post Top 50 Fiction Books of 2014; Kirkus Best of 2014; Amazon 100 Best of 2014 #16; Publishers Weekly Best Fiction Books of 2014; Our Man in Boston’s Best of 2014; Oprah.com 15 Must Reads of 2014; Buzzfeed 32 Most Beautiful Book Covers of 2014; A Vogue Top 10 Book of 2014; A New York magazine Best Book of the Year; Seattle Times Top Books of 2014; San Francisco Chronicle Top 10 Books of 2014

Euphoria is a meticulously researched homage to Mead’s restless mind and a considered portrait of Western anthropology in its primitivist heyday. It’s also a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace—a love triangle in extremis…The steam the book emits is as much intellectual as erotic…and King’s signal achievement may be to have created satisfying drama out of a quest for interpretive insight…King is brilliant on the moral contradictions that propelled anthropological encounters with remote tribes…In King’s exquisite book, desire—for knowledge, fame, another person—is only fleetingly rewarded.”—Emily Eakin, New York Times Book Review (cover review)

"It’s refreshing to see the world’s most famous anthropologist brought down to human scale and placed at the center of this svelte new book by Lily King. “Euphoria” is King’s first work of historical fiction. For this dramatic new venture, she retains all the fine qualities that made her three previous novels insightful and absorbing, but now she’s working on top of a vast body of scholarly work and public knowledge. And yet “Euphoria” is also clearly the result of ferocious restraint; King has resisted the temptation to lard her book with the fruits of her research. Poetic in its compression and efficiency, “Euphoria” presumes some familiarity with Mead’s biography for context and background, and yet it also deviates from that history in promiscuous ways...King keeps the novel focused tightly on her three scientists, which makes the glimpses we catch of their New Guinea subjects all the more arresting...Although King has always written coolly about intense emotions, here she captures the amber of one man’s exquisite longing for a woman who changed the way we look at ourselves."—Ron Charles, Washington Post

"Atmospheric and sensual, with startling images throughout, Euphoria is an intellectually stimulating tour de force."—NPR.com

"This novel is as concentrated as orchid food, packing as much narrative power and intellectual energy into its 250 pages as novels triple its size."
—Marion Winik, Newsday

“Euphoria is at once romantic, exotic, informative, and entertaining.”— Reader’s Digest summer reading list)

"It's smart and steamy and like the best historical fiction, it made me want to read about Mead."—USA Today's Summer's Hottest Titles

"This year's winner Book I Read In One Sitting Because I happened to Read The First Page...a novel of ideas and also a novel of emotions: the titular one but also envy, hubris, despair, and above all desire—how liberating or scandalous it can be, how linked to intellect, how dictatorial."—Kathryn Schulz,New York, Best Books of the Year

“King reveals a startlingly vulnerable side to Mead, suggesting an elegant parallel between novelist and archeologist: In scrutinizing the lives of others, we discover ourselves.”—Vogue Top 10 Books of 2014

"Enthralling . . . From Conrad to Kingsolver, the misdeeds of Westerners have inspired their own literary subgenre, and in King’s insightful, romantic addition, the work of novelist and anthropologist find resonant parallel: In the beauty and cruelty of others, we discover our own.”—Vogue

“You need know not one thing about 1930s cultural anthropology, or about the late, controversial anthropologists Margaret Mead and Reo Fortune and Gregory Bateson (Mead’s second and third husbands) to delight in King’s novel. Her superb coup is to have imagined a story loosely founded on the intertwined lives of the three that instantly becomes its own, thrilling saga.”—San Francisco Chronicle, Top 10 Books of 2014

"King's superb coup is to have imagined a story loosely founded on the intertwined lives of the above three that instantly becomes its own, thrilling saga - while provoking a detective's curiosity about its sources....King builds an intense, seductive, sexual and intellectual tension among the three: This taut, fraught triangulation is the novel's driving force. There are so many exhilarating elements to savor in Euphoria. It moves fast. It's grit-in-your-teeth sensuous. The New Guinean bush and its peoples - their concerns, their ordeals - confront us with fierce, tangible exactness, with dignity and wit. So do the vagaries of anthropological theories, rivalries, politics. Observations are unfailingly acute, and the book is packed with them....It's a brave, glorious set piece. By the end of Euphoria, this reader sighed with wistful satisfaction, wishing the book would go on. Brava to Lily King."—Joan Frank,San Francisco Chronicle

"It’s the rare novel of ideas that devours its readers’ attention. More often, as with Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries or Gravity’s Rainbow, we work our way through these books carefully and with frequent pauses, rather than gulping them down in long, thirsty drafts. It’s not a literary form known for its great romances, either, although of course love and sex play a role in most fictional characters’ lives. Lily King’s Euphoria, a shortish novel based on a period in the life of pioneering anthropologist Margaret Mead, is an exception. At its center is a romantic triangle, and it tells a story that begs to be consumed in one or two luxurious binges...King is a sinewy, disciplined writer who wisely avoids the temptation to evoke the overwhelming physicality of the jungle (the heat, the steam, the bugs) by generating correspondingly lush thickets of language. Her story...sticks close to the interlocking bonds that give the novel its tensile power."—Laura Miller, Salon

“Lily King has built her reputation as a gifted novelist steadily over three books. Her fourth, Euphoria—a smart, sexy, concise work inspired by anthropologist Margaret Mead—should solidify the critical approval and bring her a host of new readers.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Among the plethora of mysteries and assorted fiction that flow from Maine, it’s a rare novel that rises to the level of Euphoria...a fascinating, multi-layered character study of people under duress....the writing...sweeps you away....Put Euphoria in your book bag for those trips to the beach. You’ll be glad you did."—Portland Herald Press

Masterful...Euphoria begins so deep in the action that the reader is captured on Page 1... a thrilling and beautifully composed novel...A great novelist is like an anthropologist, examining what humans do by habit and custom. King excels in creating vignettes from Nell’s fieldwork as well as from the bitter conversation of the three love-torn collaborators, making the familiar strange and the strange acceptable. This is a riveting and provocative novel, absolutely first-rate."—Seattle Times

"Exciting...a wonderfully vivid and perceptive tale...King’s prose sparkles...The upriver experiences of her characters feel thoroughly authentic —fascinating, uncomfortable, always dangerous, sometimes even euphoric."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Splendid...compelling, intelligent...filled with searing shocks...breaks the heart."—Tampa Bay Times

“Lily King has taken this high-octane collaboration and turned it into an intellectual romance novel…the effect is hallucinatory – this is a trip of a novel…Hot stuff. In every way.”—Book Reporter

"A haunting novel of love, ambition, and obsession...unforgettable."—AudioFile

"Inspired by an event in the life of Margaret Mead, this novel tells the story of three young anthropologists in 1930s New Guinea...This three-way relationship is complex and involving, but even more fascinating is the depiction of three anthropologists with three entirely diverse ways of studying another culture...These differences, along with professional jealousy and sexual tension, propel the story toward its inevitable conclusion...Recommended for fans of novels about exploration as myth and about cultural clashes, from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart."—Library Journal (starred review)

"The love lives and expeditions of controversial anthropologists Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson are fictionalized and richly reimagined in New England Book Award winner King’s (Father of the Rain) meaty and entrancing fourth book...King’s immersive prose takes center stage. The fascinating descriptions of tribal customs and rituals, paired with snippets of Nell’s journals—as well as the characters’ insatiable appetites for scientific discovery—all contribute to a thrilling read that, at its end, does indeed feel like 'the briefest, purest euphoria.'"—Publishers Weekly(starred review)

“Set between the First and Second World Wars, the story is loosely based on events in the life of Margaret Mead. There are fascinating looks into other cultures and how they are studied, and the sacrifices and dangers that go along with it. This is a powerful story, at once gritty, sensuous, and captivating.”—Booklist

"Atmospheric...A small gem, disturbing and haunting."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“There are some novels that take you by the hand with their lovely prose alone; there are those that pull you in with sensual renderings of time and place and a compelling story; and there are still others that seduce you solely with their subject matter. But it is a rare novel indeed that does all of the above at once and with complete artistic mastery. Yet this is precisely what Lily King has done in her stunningly passionate and gorgeously written Euphoria. It is simply one of the finest novels I’ve read in years, and it puts Lily King firmly in the top rank of our most accomplished novelists.”
— Andre Dubus III

“With Euphoria, Lily King gives us a searing and absolutely mesmerizing glimpse into 1930’s New Guinea, a world as savage and fascinating as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, where obsessions rise to a feverish pitch, and three dangerously entangled anthropologists will never be the same again. Jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful. I loved this book.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“I have come to expect Lily King’s nuanced explorations of the human heart, but in this novel she pulled me in to the exotic world of a woman anthropologist working with undiscovered tribes in 1930s New Guinea and I was totally captivated. Euphoria is a great book! So great, that I stayed up late to finish it."—Karl Marlantes

“Writers are childlike in their enthusiasm about other writers’ good work. They’re thinking: How’d they ever think of that? That’s amazing/beautifully written/true! Imagine all the effort that went into pulling this off. Could I do something this original/surprising/moving? I’m always happy to read Lily King, and I particularly enjoyed reading Euphoria.” –Ann Beattie

“Fresh, brilliantly structured, and fully imagined, this novel radically transforms a story we might have known, as outsiders—but now experience, though Lily King's great gifts, as if we'd lived it.”
—Andrea Barrett

“Lily King delves into the intellectual flights and passions of three anthropologists – as complex, rivalrous and brutal as any of the cultures they study. Euphoria is a brilliantly written book."—Alice Greenway

A CBS News "Must-have titles for your summer reading list"; An O, the Oprah Magazine, “10 Titles To Pick Up Now”; A Marie Claire "novel that needs to be in your beach bag"; A USA Today pick for Summer's Hottest Titles"; A National Geographic Ultimate Summer #TripLit Reading List; A Boston Globe Summer Reading Suggestion; A Salon pick for Best Book of the Year (so far); A St. Louis Post Dispatch "Books to carry on the road this summer"; Reader’s Digest Summer Reading List, An Observer (UK) Best holiday reads 2014; An Indie Next Pick for June

The New York Times Book Review - Emily Eakin
…as uncanny as it is transporting. Euphoria is a meticulously researched homage to Mead's restless mind and a considered portrait of Western anthropology in its primitivist heyday. It's also a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace—a love triangle in extremis. For King, whose three previous novels, all expertly crafted, rarely strayed far from late-20th-century, New England WASP culture, Euphoria represents a departure and arguably a breakthrough. The steam the book emits is as much intellectual as erotic (for Mead there seems hardly to have been a distinction), and King's signal achievement may be to have created satisfying drama out of a quest for interpretive insight.
Publishers Weekly
★ 04/14/2014
The love lives and expeditions of controversial anthropologists Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson are fictionalized and richly reimagined in New England Book Award winner King’s (Father of the Rain) meaty and entrancing fourth book. Set in the 1930s in Papua New Guinea, this impeccably researched story illuminates the state of the world as clearly as the passion of its characters. Many years into his study of the isolated Kiona tribe, Andrew Bankson (the stand-in for Bateson here) is recovering from a recent failed suicide attempt when he meets with renowned anthropologist Nell Stone (Mead) and her fiery husband Fen (Fortune) at a party. His vigor for life renewed after meeting them, Andrew introduces the couple to the tribe they’ll be studying, who live a few hours away, down the Sepik River. Before long, Andrew becomes obsessed—not just with his work but with Nell, and the relationship tangle sets off a fateful series of events. While the love triangle sections do turn pages (Innuendo! Jealousy! Betrayal!), King’s immersive prose takes center stage. The fascinating descriptions of tribal customs and rituals, paired with snippets of Nell’s journals—as well as the characters’ insatiable appetites for scientific discovery—all contribute to a thrilling read that, at its end, does indeed feel like “the briefest, purest euphoria.” Agent: Julie Barer, Barer Literary. (June)
Library Journal
★ 05/15/2014
Inspired by an event in the life of Margaret Mead, this novel tells the story of three young anthropologists in 1930s New Guinea. Professional superstar Nell Stone and her Australian husband, Fen, flee one tribe, and, with the help of English anthropologist Andrew Bankson, settle with the Tam, an unusual, female-dominated tribe. A love triangle soon develops among the three. The attraction Bankson feels for Nell saves him from loneliness and suicide, but it heightens tensions between Nell and Fen, ultimately exploding in violence. This three-way relationship is complex and involving, but even more fascinating is the depiction of three anthropologists with three entirely diverse ways of studying another culture. They disagree on the extent to which it is possible and even necessary to intrude on a culture in order to understand it. These differences, along with professional jealousy and sexual tension, propel the story toward its inevitable conclusion. VERDICT Recommended for fans of novels about exploration as myth and about cultural clashes, from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14.]—Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-29
King (Father of the Rain, 2010, etc.) changes the names (and the outcome) in this atmospheric romantic fiction set in New Guinea and clearly based on anthropologist Margaret Mead's relationship with her second and third husbands, R. F. Fortune and Gregory Bateson—neither a slouch in his own right. In the early 1930s, Nell and Fen are married anthropologists in New Guinea. American Nell has already published a controversial best-seller about Samoan child-rearing while Australian Fen has published only a monograph on Dobu island sorcery. Their marriage is in trouble: She holds Fen responsible for her recent miscarriage; he resents her fame and financial success. Shortly after leaving the Mumbanyo tribe they have been studying (and which Nell has grown to abhor), they run into British anthropologist Bankson, who is researching another tribal village, the Nengai, along the Sepik River. Deeply depressed—he has recently attempted suicide—Bankson is haunted by the deaths of his older brothers and his scientist father's disappointment in him for practicing what is considered a soft science. Also deeply lonely, Bankson offers to find Nell and Fen an interesting tribe to study to keep them nearby. Soon the couple is happily ensconced with the Tam, whose women surprise Nell with their assertiveness. While the attraction, both physical and intellectual, between Bankson and Nell is obvious, Fen also offers Bankson tender care, which threatens to go beyond friendship, when Bankson falls ill. At first, the three-way connection is uniting and stimulating. But as Nell's and Bankson's feelings for each other develop, sexual tensions grow. So do the differences between Fen's and Nell's views on the anthropologist's role. While Bankson increasingly shares Nell's empathetic approach, Fen plots to retrieve an artifact from the Mumbanyo to cement his career. King does not shy from showing the uncomfortable relationship among all three anthropologists and those they study. Particularly upsetting is the portrait of a Tam who returns "civilized" after working in a copper mine. A small gem, disturbing and haunting.< BR>★

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802123701
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
04/14/2015
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
22,942
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


If the Tam weren’t a good fit, they would go to Australia. This was my last chance to get it right. And I could tell she was skeptical. But Teket had been many times to the Tam to visit his cousin there, and even if everything he told me about the culture and the beauty of the area were half true, it should satisfy this pair of choosy anthropologists. ‘I should have brought you here straightaway.’ I said, not entirely meaning to say it aloud. ‘It was selfish of me.’
She smiled, and told Fen not to kill us before we got there.
After several hours I saw the tributary we needed to take. Fen turned us toward it, letting in a little water on the port side. The tributary was a narrow ribbon of yellowish brown water. The sun disappeared and the air was cool on our faces.
‘Water’s low,’ Fen said.
‘You’re all right,’ I said, scanning for glimpses of the bottom.
The rains hadn’t come yet. The banks here rose high, walls of mud and coiling white roots. I watched carefully for the break Teket had told me about. He’d said it was soon after the turn. In a motorized boat it would come fast.
‘Here,’ I pointed right.
‘Here? Where?’
‘Right here.’ We were nearly past it.
The boat lurched, then slid into a tiny dark canal between what Teket called kopi, bushes that looked like freshwater mangroves.
‘You cannot be serious, Bankson,’ Fen said.
‘They’re fens, aren’t they?’ Nell said. ‘Fen among the fens.’
‘This is a fen? Jesus, help us,’ he said. The passage was wide enough for only one canoe. Branches scraped our arms and because we’d slowed down, insects came at us in clouds. ‘You could get bloody lost in here.’
Teket had told me there was only one path through. ‘Just follow the water.’
‘Like I’m going to do anything else. Fuck, the bugs are thick.’
We motored through this close corridors a long time, their trust in me weakening by the minute. I wanted to tell them everything I’d heard about the Tam, but best to have them arrive discouraged and skeptical.
‘Sure you have enough petrol for this?’ Fen asked.
And just then the passage opened up.
The lake was enormous, at least twelve miles across, the water jet black and ringed by bright green hills. Fen pulled up on the throttle to idle and we swayed there for a moment. Across the water was a long beach, and, mirroring it in the water twenty yards offshore, a bright white sandbar. Or what I thought was a sandbar, until all at once it lifted, broke apart, and thinned into the air.
‘Osprey,’ I said. ‘White osprey.’
‘Oh my, Bankson,’ Nell said. ‘This is glorious.’

Meet the Author


Lily King is the author of the novels The Pleasing Hour, The English Teacher, and Father of the Rain, a New York Times Editor’s Choice and winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction. King is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and the Maine Fiction Award twice. She lives with her husband and children in Maine.

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Euphoria 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Historical novels are my favorite reads and in my search for another I was drawn to Lily King&rsquo;s &ldquo;Euphoria,&rdquo; having taken courses in cultural anthropology and linguistics in college. This novel is a work of fiction though drawn from a period in Margaret Mead&rsquo;s study of a tribal community in 1930&rsquo;s Papua New Guinea. The protagonist anthropologist in the novel, Nell, together with her scientist husband Fen and anthropologist friend Bankson, share a small hut while conducting participant/observer field studies of the female dominated Tam tribe. The three form passionate intellectual and emotional attachments to one another as well as with their subjects in the tribal community. Tensions build as each chapter unfolds and I was captivated from beginning to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. It really make you want to read more about Margaret Mead. This novel holds your attention from lots of angles: interesting culture and setting, a romance, evil in many ways, and definately damaged human beings - morally, sexually, and emotionally. Gripping. Highly recommended for the reader - with a warning that this book is rated at least "R"! Another book during this time period that is great is The Partisan by William Jarvis. This historical fiction also has a great romance, evil characters, but has great and noble female and male characters who rise above. I would give both books A++++++, but for different reasons.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She is a wonderful writer. Yes, she takes liberties with the true lives of these three famous anthropologists (especially the ending!) but she is such a lovely writer and does an excellent job of conveying the issues in ethnographic work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story about research of tribal life and living amongst them. What matters in our world, is insignificant in theirs.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
I received this book from Grove Atlantic, Atlantic Monthly, and Lily King as a Goodreads Giveaway on March 4th, 2015. Thank you all for allowing me to read this book! Lily King has shared with us a wonderful story, tautly told, about life and love and fate. Though a quick read, you will find yourself drifting on the rivers of New Guinea and rooting for Nell. She is a woman we are bound to love, the essential woman we all aspire to be. Set pre-WWII, this is a tale of anthropologists trying to understand the lives of aborigine tribes around the world. A new science at that time, there were no blazing trails to follow, no right or wrong way to compile information and no safety nets. A very special book. Please read and enjoy.
Yogaenthusiast More than 1 year ago
I simply cannot join the chorus of rave reviews for Euphoria. It has its moments and insights, but is lacking good plot development. The background of the characters is poorly developed, making the hints at their conduct mostly irritating. It almost feels like the book was edited by more than one person, and the final edits where not carefully integrated. I was particularly put off by the "twist" ending. It felt like King did not know how she wanted to end the book, so rushed to an trite, and poorly developed conclusion. The insights into anthropology were fascinating, but the entire book was lacking. There are much better written books to enjoy, and I wish I had passed on this one.
GinnyLu More than 1 year ago
Fascinating read. I definitely would recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writer never made me feel the closeness of the jungle. Could have been a better story.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Good but too short & thin -- novel based on lives of 3 anthropologists studying primitive cultures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing is excellent! After reading this several weeks ago I still can't stop thinking about it. Highly recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it in two days. I couldn't put it down. Now I can stop thinking about it. Meticulously researched. Always lively. Tense. The ending does not match Margaret Mead's life but it shouldn't. This is a novel, and the ending serves the story. The lessons, themes, and questions continue to echo. Perfect for book clubs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrific novel. Full of delicious characters.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book whose characters will draw you in and make you care about what happens to them.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend. I did a little research on Margaret Mead's life and work before reading Euphoria, which helped fill in the background. Couldn't put it down.
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SadieMD More than 1 year ago
Boring and pointless. The only compelling parts were those that describe the native culture. The rest was dull and went nowhere.