The Book of Joan

The Book of Joan

by Lidia Yuknavitch

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Overview

A New York Times Notable Book of 2017

The 25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017, Elle Magazine

The 32 Most Exciting Books Coming Out in 2017, BuzzFeed

50 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2017, Nylon Magazine

33 New Books to Read in 2017, The Huffington Post

Most Anticipated, The Great 2017 Book Preview, The Millions

New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

National Bestseller

“Brilliant and incendiary. . . . Radically new, full of maniacal invention and page-turning momentum. . . .Yuknavitch has exhibited a rare gift for writing that concedes little in its quest to be authentic, meaningful and relevant. By adding speculative elements to The Book of Joan, she reaches new heights with even higher stakes: the death or life of our planet.”
   — Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times Book Review (cover review)

“Stunning. . . . Yuknavitch understands that our collective narrative can either destroy or redeem us, and the outcome depends not just on who’s telling it, but also on who’s listening.”
   — O, The Oprah Magazine

“[A] searing fusion of literary fiction and reimagined history and science-fiction thriller and eco-fantasy. . . Yuknavitch is a bold and ecstatic writer.”
   — NPR Books 

“[The Book of Joan] offers a wealth of pathos, with plenty of resonant excruciations and some disturbing meditations on humanity’s place in creation . . . [It] concludes in a bold and satisfying apotheosis like some legend out of The Golden Bough and reaffirms that even amid utter devastation and ruin, hope can still blossom.”
   — Washington Post

The bestselling author of The Small Backs of Children offers a vision of our near-extinction and a heroine—a reimagined Joan of Arc—poised to save a world ravaged by war, violence, and greed, and forever change history, in this provocative new novel.

In the near future, world wars have transformed the earth into a battleground. Fleeing the unending violence and the planet’s now-radioactive surface, humans have regrouped to a mysterious platform known as CIEL, hovering over their erstwhile home. The changed world has turned evolution on its head: the surviving humans have become sexless, hairless, pale-white creatures floating in isolation, inscribing stories upon their skin.

Out of the ranks of the endless wars rises Jean de Men, a charismatic and bloodthirsty cult leader who turns CIEL into a quasi-corporate police state. A group of rebels unite to dismantle his iron rule—galvanized by the heroic song of Joan, a child-warrior who possesses a mysterious force that lives within her and communes with the earth. When de Men and his armies turn Joan into a martyr, the consequences are astonishing. And no one—not the rebels, Jean de Men, or even Joan herself—can foresee the way her story and unique gift will forge the destiny of an entire world for generations.

A riveting tale of destruction and love found in the direst of places—even at the extreme end of post-human experience—Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan raises questions about what it means to be human, the fluidity of sex and gender, and the role of art as a means for survival.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Jeff VanderMeer

Post-apocalyptic fiction too often pays lip service to serious problems like climate change while allowing the reader to walk away unscathed, cocooned in an ironic escapism and convinced that the impending disaster is remote. Not so with Lidia Yuknavitch's brilliant and incendiary new novel, which speaks to the reader in raw, boldly honest terms. The Book of Joan has the same unflinching quality as earlier works by Josephine Saxton, Doris Lessing, Frank Herbert, Ursula K. Le Guin and J. G. Ballard. Yet it's also radically new, full of maniacal invention and page-turning momentum…Yuknavitch's prose is passionate and lyrical…Fusing grand themes and the visceral details of daily life, she offers a revisionist corrective that shows the influence of writers like Clarice Lispector and Angela Carter…Telling the truth with precision and rage and a visionary's eye, using both realism and fabulism, is one way to break through the white noise of a consumerist culture that tries to commodify post-apocalyptic fiction, to render it safe. But in Yuknavitch's work there's no quick cauterizing of the wound, nothing to allow us to engage in escapism. The result is a rich, heady concoction, rippling with provocative ideas. There is nothing in The Book of Joan that is not a great gift to Yuknavitch's readers, if only they are ready to receive it.

NPR Books

[A] searing fusion of literary fiction and reimagined history and science-fiction thriller and eco-fantasy...Yuknavitch is a bold and ecstatic writer, wallowing in sex and filth and decay and violence and nature and love with equal relish.

Real Simple

A dystopian story of power that questions what it means to be human.

Nylon Magazine

A sci-fi, dystopic retelling of the Joan of Arc story, Yuknavitch’s latest feels particularly essential at this moment in history. But then, every time we read something by the immensely talented Yuknavitch, it feels particularly essential.

Cheryl Strayed

Riveting, ravishing, and crazy deep, The Book of Joan is as ferociously intelligent as it is heart-wrenchingly humane, as generous as it is relentless, as irresistible as it is important. In other words, it’s classic Lidia Yuknavitch: genius.

Roxane Gay

Lidia Yuknavitch is a writer who, with each ever more triumphant book, creates a new language with which she writes the audacious stories only she can tell. The Book of Joan is a raucous celebration, a searing condemnation, and fiercely imaginative retelling of Joan of Arc’s transcendent life.

Huffington Post

Lidia Yukanavitch is skilled at writing poetically about the human body, and about nature, so this book ― her first foray into science fiction ― makes sense. It’s a retelling of the story of Joan of Arc, but in a world ravaged by radiation, and with few land-based survivors.

Suleika Jaouad

Yuknavitch has emerged as a trailblazing literary voice that spans genres and dives deep into themes of gender, sexuality, art, violence, and transcendence.

Washington Post

Joan [of Arc] offers herself as the perfect figure for Yuknavitch’s new novel. Translated into a dystopian future, this New Joan of Dirt serves as emblem for all the stalwart commoners in whose crushing defeat lies a kind of inviolate spiritual victory. . . . [The Book of Joan] offers a wealth of pathos, with plenty of resonant excruciations and some disturbing meditations on humanity’s place in creation . . . [It] concludes in a bold and satisfying apotheosis like some legend out of The Golden Bough and reaffirms that even amid utter devastation and ruin, hope can still blossom.

Chelsea Cain

Dazzling. A post-apocalyptic literary tour de force, The Book of Joan begs for buzz. There is so much here that is transgressive and badass and nervy and transformational. Here is a Katniss Everdeen for grown-ups.

Newsweek

While delivering an entirely new world and also putting forth a powerful treatise on the way we live now, The Book of Joan is one of those dystopian novels that you can’t help thinking might be too eerily real to be just fiction.

Amber Tamblyn

Reading The Book of Joan is a meditation on art and sex and war. My brain is full-bloomed. Get ready, it’s glorious.

The Oprah Magazine O

Stunning.... Yuknavitch understands that our collective narrative can either destroy or redeem us, and the outcome depends not just on who’s telling it, but also on who’s listening.

New York Times Book Review

In this brilliant and incendiary new novel, mixing realism and fabulism, Earth, circa 2049, has been devastated by global warming and war; the wealthy live on a suborbital complex ruled by a billionaire celebrity turned dictator.

Booklist

The heart-stopping climax will surprise readers of this dystopian tale that ponders the meanings of gender, sex, love, and life.

The Millions

In a new kind of world, we need a new kind of hero and a reimagined Joan of Arc from Yuknavitch seems like just the thing.

Bustle  

Breathtaking, embattled, and consuming. Startling and badass. Subversive. Eviscerating. Terrifying and hopeful...Written in the tradition of all great science fiction, The Book of Joan reminds readers of the profound power even one lone voice can have in inspiring a revolution, influencing freedom and justice for generations to come.

Vanessa Veselka

Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan inscribes whatever blank canvasses it finds-space, skin, alabaster hallways, holding cells called Liberty Rooms-to tell the story of the vital and violent Joan. As with Dora, the price for entry into Yuknavitch’s world is corporeal. Her narrators demand we shed all fear of the body and step into a new literary nakedness. The Book of Joan is graffiti in white ink. It is where experimentalism meets the dirty earth and gets saved.

Karen Karbo

Lidia Yuknavitch’s new book has left me throttled and close to speechless. Speculative doesn’t begin to describe this sexy, imaginative and thoroughly original work. Atwood, LeGuin and Lessing come to mind, but Yuknavitch’s sensibility, which includes her casual ability to completely blow your mind, is all her own.

Electric Literature

“The Book of Joan is ferocious and indelible, grappling with what it means to love in the midst of violence; and how we transform fury, agony, and history into art. It is huge in its scope, moving seamlessly, quantumly, between dirt and cosmos, and through the wormholes of nonlinear time.

USA Today

While delivering an entirely new world and also putting forth a powerful treatise on the way we live now, The Book of Joan is one of those dystopian novels that you can’t help thinking might be too eerily real to be just fiction.

Newsweek

While delivering an entirely new world and also putting forth a powerful treatise on the way we live now, The Book of Joan is one of those dystopian novels that you can’t help thinking might be too eerily real to be just fiction.

Booklist

The heart-stopping climax will surprise readers of this dystopian tale that ponders the meanings of gender, sex, love, and life.

Washington Post

Joan [of Arc] offers herself as the perfect figure for Yuknavitch’s new novel. Translated into a dystopian future, this New Joan of Dirt serves as emblem for all the stalwart commoners in whose crushing defeat lies a kind of inviolate spiritual victory. . . . [The Book of Joan] offers a wealth of pathos, with plenty of resonant excruciations and some disturbing meditations on humanity’s place in creation . . . [It] concludes in a bold and satisfying apotheosis like some legend out of The Golden Bough and reaffirms that even amid utter devastation and ruin, hope can still blossom.

USA Today

While delivering an entirely new world and also putting forth a powerful treatise on the way we live now, The Book of Joan is one of those dystopian novels that you can’t help thinking might be too eerily real to be just fiction.

Tor.com

Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan is so much more than just a retelling of the story of Joan of Arc…. From this ecologically-minded update of Joan of Arc Lidia Yuknavitch creates a masterful book that is concerned with the stories we tell ourselves, and how we choose to tell those stories….As the book twists and turns and changes shape it becomes far less the familiar story of a young girl leading a war, or becoming a nation’s sacrificial lamb, and becomes much more about women having control over what is done to their bodies. It also meditates long and hard on those people who want to assert their desire on other people, animals, or the Earth itself….The Book of Joan is an heir to The Handmaid’s Tale28 Days LaterDune, and Children of Men in its intimate concern with the female body. As in those stories, the collapse of fertility rewrites society, and forces powerful men to finally reckon with the importance of women…. [S]tunning writing. This book is terrifying. The lushness of her prose, the way she describes pain and fear, and above all the utter hopelessness that she expresses through her characters, who are all looking at what might be the end of humanity, makes The Book of Joana necessary read.” 

Michele Filgate

Yuknavitch is the writer we need at this moment in time. Pick up her latest book and you’ll see why: her sentences sear into your skin, becoming a part of you. (Much like a plot point in the book: in the near future, people write stories on their own bodies.) If you’re a fan of Mad Max: Fury Road, then you’ll love Yuknavitch’s Joan, based on Joan of Arc.

Los Angeles Review of Books

Now is a fine time for tales of women’s resistance, which, above all else, is what The Book of Joan has on offer. Lidia Yuknavitch mines literary and political history for impressive, timely heroines based on the iconic Joan of Arc and her contemporary Christine de Pizan, the only chronicler to write during Joan’s lifetime...This world’s Joan is scarred and strong, a fully adult Katniss Everdeen with bigger guns and no weirdly retro procreative ending waiting for her after the war.” 

Jeff VanderMeer

Brilliant and incendiary. . . . Radically new, full of maniacal invention and page-turning momentum. . . . Yuknavitch’s prose is passionate and lyrical. . . . Fusing grand themes and the visceral details of daily life, she offers a revisionist corrective that shows the influence of writers like Clarice Lispector and Angela Carter. . . . Yuknavitch has exhibited a rare gift for writing that concedes little in its quest to be authentic, meaningful and relevant. By adding speculative elements to The Book of Joan, she reaches new heights with even higher stakes: the death or life of our planet.

Chuck Palahniuk

It’s unfair to compare Yuknavitch to only female authors. With her verve and bold imagination, she’s earned the throne left empty since the death of David Foster Wallace.

Library Journal

★ 02/15/2017
Yuknavitch's latest book (after The Small Backs of Children) opens as the quintessential postapocalyptic dystopian nightmare. Life on Earth has been extinguished, and the survivors eke out an existence in the orbital habitat known as CIEL. These survivors, as the price of their entrance, get to live only 50 years. Forty-nine-year-old Christine tells the story of how the martyred hero Joan opposed the world domination of maniacal leader Jean de Men, which brought about the geo-catastrophe. The surviving humans have lost their hair, skin color, and sexual organs and have also developed a literary tradition of electrosurgical branding on skin grafts, of which Christine is a virtuoso. After news arrives that Joan, publicly executed years ago, is still alive on the wasted earth, the novel shifts to Joan's point of view: she has supernatural powers and can even raise the dead, but only for a day. We learn her life story and watch as she joins with other rogue humans, regains power and influence, and unites with Christine in CIEL to combat evil. VERDICT This ambitious novel encompasses a wide canvas to spin a captivating commentary on the hubris of humanity. An interesting blend of posthuman literary body politics and paranormal ecological transmutation; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 11/17/16.]—Henry Bankhead, San Rafael P.L., CA

Kirkus Reviews

2017-01-23
A retelling of the Joan of Arc story set in a terrifying near future of environmental and political chaos.Earth in 2049 is ravaged. A geocatastrophe has swallowed coasts and islands; supervolcanoes and solar storms have dimmed the sun and reduced the planet to "a dirt clod, floating in space." The wealthiest of Earth's inhabitants now live in CIEL, "a suborbital complex" floating just in view of their former planetary home. Christine Pizan (a nod to medieval court writer Christine de Pisan), at age 49, resembles the other inhabitants of CIEL: physically androgynous, completely white "like the albumen of an egg," and covered in scars and skin grafts. These deliberate body modifications, or "skinstories," are Christine's expertise, and they are some of the only reminders she has left of life on Earth, along with her beloved friend and fellow CIELian Trinculo (who resembles his buffoonish namesake from Shakespeare's The Tempest). In particular, Christine has seared into her body the story of Joan, a young eco-terrorist from the time of the geocatastrophe—and when her and Trinculo's survival is threatened, she turns to her body's offering of Joan's tale for inspiration. Yuknavitch (The Small Backs of Children, 2015, etc.) writes with her characteristic fusion of poetic precision and barbed ferocity, and the ingenuity of the world she creates astounds even in the face of the novel's ambitiously messy sprawl. Perhaps even more astounding is Yuknavitch's prescience: readers will be familiar with the figure of Jean de Men, a celebrity-turned-drone-wielding-dictator who first presided over the Wars on Earth and now lords over CIEL, having substituted "all gods, all ethics, and all science with the power of representation, a notion born on Earth, evolved through media and technology." A harrowing and timely entry into the canon of speculative fiction.

Bustle -

Breathtaking, embattled, and consuming. Startling and badass. Subversive. Eviscerating. Terrifying and hopeful...Written in the tradition of all great science fiction, The Book of Joan reminds readers of the profound power even one lone voice can have in inspiring a revolution, influencing freedom and justice for generations to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062383273
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/18/2017
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Customer Reviews