Fallen Land: A Novel

Overview

From the critically acclaimed author of Absolution, a “dazzling . . . thrilling . . . downright exhilarating” (The Washington Post) page-turner set in the American heartland.

In Patrick Flanery’s tensely brilliant second novel, the layered and tumultuous past of one plot of former farmland comes to haunt its new owners in breathtaking yet deeply meaningful ways.

When Julia and Nathaniel arrive in a luxury suburb of neo-Victorian homes on the ...

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Fallen Land: A Novel

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Overview

From the critically acclaimed author of Absolution, a “dazzling . . . thrilling . . . downright exhilarating” (The Washington Post) page-turner set in the American heartland.

In Patrick Flanery’s tensely brilliant second novel, the layered and tumultuous past of one plot of former farmland comes to haunt its new owners in breathtaking yet deeply meaningful ways.

When Julia and Nathaniel arrive in a luxury suburb of neo-Victorian homes on the edge of a sprawling midwestern city, they have no inkling of its history. For the East Coast couple and their young son, Copley, it is a fresh start, promising a bucolic American future. They buy up the signature home of the development 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—as it did in the development’s architect. As the remaining trees on the land bear witness, reality shifts, and the edges of what is right and wrong blur and then vanish, as 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.)
From the Publisher
“Dazzling . . . thrilling . . . downright exhilarating"—Washington Post

"As in his sterling 2012 debut, Absolution, Flanery balances thriller-novel twists with smart and sincere sociological meditations."—Wall Street Journal

"Patrick Flanery has fashioned a crumbling 21st-century manor that can hold its own among those authors most sepulchral, allegorical inspirations. . . . We follow Fallen Land on tenterhooks from fearsome opening to shuddery climax, waiting to see what it will do."—Boston Globe

“Flanery has planted a modern-day bogeyman tale in this fertile ground of suspicion. . . . He has the skill and the vision to transform the darkness that has infected this country into something that walks the earth”—New York Daily News

“[Flanery is a] gifted storyteller . . . manages to both provoke and enthrall in this densely plotted page turner.”—BookPage

“[Flanery] confronts the traumas of American life with poignancy and the gravity they deserve, approaching them with the care required to help weather the storm.”—BookSlut

"This psychological thriller doesn’t stop at suspenseful and chilling, though. Fallen Land deconstructs the American dream to expose its most damning flaws and unsound foundations. The novel is rich in imagery and metaphor, and its conclusions are deeply disturbing. Written with the same elegance and ease demonstrated in Absolution, Flanery’s second novel will keep readers riveted from intriguing prelude to stunning finale."—Booklist (starred)

"Flanery’s engrossing new novel speaks to modern anxieties through themes of loss. . . . Flanery 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."—Publishers Weekly (starred)

"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. . . . Flanery’s dark view of human ambition, weakness and complacency is both thoughtful and terrifying. A haunting, layered allegory."—Kirkus (starred)

“Flanery gives every character a nuanced inner voice, allowing the reader to empathize with, if not fully understand, the actions of each. This is a tense, gut-wrenching take on the American dream gone horribly awry.”—Library Journal, (starred)

"Like Flanery’s debut, Absolution, Fallen Land is thematically ambitious—the financial crisis and the legacy of slavery are among its concerns—but also thrillingly tense and atmospheric. The author tugs at the edges of his narrative until it assumes exaggerated, Gothic shapes. Comparisons to Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom there are allusions throughout, would not be extravagant."—Financial Times

“Now, on the back of his highly regarded South Africa–set debut, Absolution, Patrick Flanery takes up the challenge of what DeLillo calls 'the American mystery' in a new novel that also explores the dark shadows cast by history and old lies. . . . In Fallen Land, Flanery has given us a gripping thriller, and a superb portrayal of how ordinary men can veer into madness, but its real power lies in its recognition of the tragic failure of an American dream that should have tried, at least, to live up to Francis Bellamy's principle of 'liberty and justice for all.' ”—The Guardian

“Patrick Flanery’s second novel . . . combines old-style suspense with a chilling picture of modern America. . . . Fallen Land is an ambitious thriller vehicle for a dissection of America. . . Fallen Land impressively examines how thoroughly the American dream has turned into the American nightmare.”—Sunday Times
 

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.
Library Journal
★ 09/01/2013
In compelling prose, Flanery (Absolution) unveils the insidious growth of defense contractor EKK Corporation into a global big brother intent on managing all aspects of people's lives. At the crux of this intense narrative are Paul Krovik, a failed building contractor whose paranoid delusions have alienated his family and left him holed up and armed in a bunker under the house that he considered his masterpiece, and EKK executive Nathaniel, the usurper who now lives with his wife, Julia, and son, Copley, in Paul's former home. Confusing Copley with his own son, Carson, Krovik steals into the house at night in a misguided effort to watch over the lonely boy. But when Copley warns his parents of this strange presence, they fear for his emotional health. Julia turns to former schoolteacher Louise, the granddaughter of sharecroppers, who inherited the land on which Krovik's planned community was built. Burdened with medical bills after her husband's death, and with her home in foreclosure, Louise needs a place to live, and Copley needs an advocate. VERDICT In alternating chapters, Flanery gives every character a nuanced inner voice, allowing the reader to empathize with, if not fully understand, the actions of each. This is a tense, gut-wrenching take on the American dream gone horribly awry.—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL
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Product Details

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

Meet the Author

Patrick Flanery is the author of Absolution, which was long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and short-listed for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. Born in California and raised in Omaha, he received his doctorate from the University of Oxford.

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