Fallen Land


From the critically acclaimed author of Absolution, a literary page-turner set in the American heartland.

Poplar Farm has been in Louise’s family for generations, inherited by her sharecropping forbearer from a white landowner after a lynching. Now the farm has been carved up, the trees torn down—a mini-massacre replicating the history of many farms before it, and the destruction of lives and societies taking place all across America.


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Fallen Land: A Novel

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From the critically acclaimed author of Absolution, a literary page-turner set in the American heartland.

Poplar Farm has been in Louise’s family for generations, inherited by her sharecropping forbearer from a white landowner after a lynching. Now the farm has been carved up, the trees torn down—a mini-massacre replicating the history of many farms before it, and the destruction of lives and societies taking place all across America.

Architect of this destruction is Paul Krovik, a property developer soon driven insane by the failure of his ambition. Left behind is a half-finished “luxury suburb” of neo-Victorian homes on the outskirts of a sprawling midwestern city. To Paul it is a collapsed dream, but to Julia and Nathaniel, arriving from their small Boston apartment, it is a new start, promising a bucolic future. With their son, Copley, they buy Paul’s signature home in a foreclosure sale and move in to their brave new world. Yet violence lies just beneath the surface of this land, and simmers deep within Nathaniel. The remaining trees bear witness, Louise lives on in her beleaguered farmhouse, and as reality shifts, and the edges of what is right and wrong blur and then vanish, Copley becomes convinced that someone is living in the house with them.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - David Vann
Flanery is a talented writer with a dynamic and frightening vision of the role that corporations and security have in American life. Fallen Land begins a bit slowly, but once Nathaniel's story takes over, with its evocative parallels to [John Cheever's] Bullet Park, the novel becomes an engaging attempt to identify the source of sourceless rage and the reasons an American dream, once achieved, can feel empty. It speaks especially eloquently to our uncertain times.
Publishers Weekly
Flanery’s engrossing new novel speaks to modern anxieties through themes of loss. In an unnamed Midwestern city, Paul Krovik has lost his business due to incompetence, his home due to foreclosure, and his family due to divorce. Now he lives in a bunker adjoining his former home. Neighbor Louise Washington is being evicted from her home on her family farm, which is being sold off to satisfy debts. Nathaniel Noailles’s family—Boston transplants now living in Paul’s old house—is falling apart, partly due to poltergeistlike nighttime visits from Paul (who emerges in the pantry via a secret tunnel) and partly due to son Copley’s difficulties in a draconian school run by Nathaniel’s employer, the sinister multinational security corporation EKK. Convinced that Copley is responsible for the disturbances in the house, Nathaniel ignores the problems he is having at school. Only Copley’s mother Julia—and Louise—believe the boy is innocent. Flanery (Absolution) excels in depicting psychic anguish. Paul is both disturbing and fascinating, and Copley, helpless in the face of his father’s increasing harshness, is eminently sympathetic. The characters’ struggles culminate in a shocking and memorable denouement. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Aug.)
NPR's Weekend All Things Considered
...a dark and complex thriller.
The Boston Globe
Patrick Flanery has fashioned a crumbling 21st-century manor that can hold its own among those authors' most sepulchral, allegorical inspirations.
Wall Street Journal
...as in his sterling 2012 debut, Absolution, Mr. Flanery balances thriller-novel twists with smart and sincere sociological meditations...
Kirkus Reviews
The cataclysm at the root of Flanery's (Absolution, 2012) second novel is an act of mob violence 100 years past. Two men are lynched, one white, one black. The deed to the white man's farm falls to the black man's brother, Louise Washington's ancestor. Louise was a teacher; her husband, Donald, farmed, but he was caught between high interest rates and low crop prices. Before he could recover, he died. Now, Louise, evicted by eminent domain, trespasses in her own home. Paul Krovik, an ambitious contractor, secured rights to build Dolores Woods, a McMansion development, on Louise's land. Then the housing bubble burst, the development failed, and Paul was evicted from his model home while also losing his family. In this "dolorous forest of infinite sorrow," Paul lurks in his house's secret basement shelter. From their lairs, these outliers watch Nathaniel and Julia and their boy, Copley, move into Krovik's house. Julia is a research scientist. Nathaniel, reluctant to leave Boston, will be National Director of Offender Rehabilitation for EKK, once into security and incarceration management but now exerting massive influence in areas ranging from biotech to entertainment. Nathaniel and Julia are profession-centered and blind to reality, but Copley, "unfailingly polite, reserved, self-contained, all of his processes and emotions hidden," encounters Paul. No one believes Copley, but Paul, increasingly paranoid, soon surfaces to destroy more dreams than his own. In a literary effort far different from his accomplished debut, Flanery explores family and social mores, cataloging emotional damage tumbling from generation to generation, all woven into a metaphorical tale about the human cost of bubble economics, the undermining of personal freedoms in the name of homeland security and the ugly consequences of the privatization of public service. Characters and back stories are both authentic and chilling, as when EKK's CEO declares "[p]rivate is now public, in the interests of security." In a novel both symbolic and philosophical, Flanery's dark view of human ambition, weakness and complacency is both thoughtful and terrifying. A haunting, layered allegory.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594631801
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/15/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 964,277
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Flanery is the author of Absolution. He was born in California and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He lives in London.
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