This Other Eden

This Other Eden

by Paul Harding

Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini

Unabridged — 6 hours, 8 minutes

This Other Eden

This Other Eden

by Paul Harding

Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini

Unabridged — 6 hours, 8 minutes

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Overview

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers, a novel inspired by the true story of Malaga Island, an isolated island off the coast of Maine that became one of the first racially integrated towns in the Northeast.
In 1792, formerly enslaved Benjamin Honey and his Irish wife, Patience, discover an island where they can make a life together. Over a century later, the Honeys' descendants and a diverse group of neighbors are poor, isolated, and often
hungry, but nevertheless protected from the hostility awaiting them on the mainland.
During the tumultuous summer of 1912, Matthew Diamond, a retired, idealistic but prejudiced schoolteacher turned missionary, disrupts the community's fragile balance through his efforts to educate its children. His presence attracts the
attention of authorities on the mainland who, under the influence of the eugenics-thinking popular among progressives of the day, decide to forcibly evacuate the island, institutionalize its residents, and develop the island as a
vacation destination. Beginning with a hurricane flood reminiscent of the story of Noah's ark, the novel ends with yet another ark.
In prose of breathtaking beauty and power, Paul Harding brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters: Iris and Violet McDermott, sisters raising three Penobscot orphans; Theophilus and Candace Larks and their brood of vagabond
children; the prophetic Zachary Hand to God Proverbs, a Civil War veteran wholives in a hollow tree; Ethan Honey, a young artist; and Bridget Carney, an Irish housemaid. A spellbinding story of resistance and survival, This Other Eden is an
enduring testament to the struggle to preserve human dignity in the face of intolerance and injustice.

Editorial Reviews

JANUARY 2023 - AudioFile

In 1912, Maine’s governor forcibly evacuated a small community from their Malaga Island home, claiming the mixed-race inhabitants were morally and mentally deficient. This novel, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, is based on this tragic event. Ballerini's lyrical delivery highlights the poetic descriptions of the island's physical environment and the comfortable rhythms of daily life, bolstering listeners' empathy for the families struggling to do their best with what little they have. His tone becomes more straightforward when the narrative changes to historical documents and is gruffer when white male authorities begin to disrupt and disband the community. The character study draws a harsh, vivid distinction between the insular island people and the self-righteous outsiders who want to take over the island for their own use. C.B.L. © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine

NPR - Maureen Corrigan

"Stunning…You could imagine lots of ways a historical novel about this horror might be written, but none of them would give you a sense of the strange spell of This Other Eden—its dynamism, bravado and melancholy. Harding’s style has been called ‘Faulknerian’ and maybe that’s apt, given his penchant for sometimes paragraph-long sentences that collapse past and present…[An] intense wonder of a historical novel."

Booklist (starred review) - Sarah Johnson

"A superb achievement…Harding combines an engrossing plot with deft characterizations and alluring language deeply attuned to nature’s artistry. The biblical parallels, which naturally align with the characters’ circumstances, add depth, and enhance the universality of the themes…This gorgeously limned portrait about family bonds, the loss of innocence, the insidious effects of racism, and the innate worthiness of individual lives will resonate long afterward."

Wendy Smith

"Beautiful, brooding…Harding paints a rich, unvarnished portrait of Apple Island and its residents…Long, cascading sentences sometimes loop back on themselves to add salient details; others rush forward to encapsulate as much complexity as they can…Harding’s finely wrought prose shows us a community that refuses to see itself through the judgmental eyes of others, a society composed of people who give their neighbors the same latitude to go their own way that they claim for themselves. It closes on a note of determined hope, with an emblem of continuity and endurance held high above the waters that separate Apple Island from the censorious mainland."

Booklist (starred review)

"A superb achievement…Harding combines an engrossing plot with deft characterizations and alluring language deeply attuned to nature’s artistry. The biblical parallels, which naturally align with the characters’ circumstances, add depth, and enhance the universality of the themes…[T]his gorgeously limned portrait about family bonds, the loss of innocence, the insidious effects of racism, and the innate worthiness of individual lives will resonate long afterward."

Times Literary Supplement (UK) - Clifford Thompson

"Frequent lyrical passages, which are as epic, forceful and sweeping as the floods the book depicts and recalls…Just as wonderful are the book’s frequent small touches."

The Guardian - Abhrajyoti Chakraborty

"Harding’s gifts have found their fullest expression in This Other Eden. Pick any excerpt from these 200 pages and you will find that each sentence contains multitudes and works well by itself, and yet the chapters, the paragraphs, have also been sewn together into a numinous whole…. The novel impresses time and again because of the depth of Harding’s sentences, their breathless angelic light."

New York Times - Danez Smith

"This Other Eden is ultimately a testament of love: love of kin, love of nature, love of art, love of self, love of home. Harding has written a novel out of poetry and sunlight, violent history and tender remembering. The humans he has created are, thankfully, not flattened into props and gimmicks, which sometimes happens when writers work across time and difference; instead they pulse with aliveness, dreamlike but tangible, so real it could make you weep."

Los Angeles Times - Bethanne Patrick

"Harding, who won a dark-horse Pulitzer Prize for Tinkers, again demonstrates his gifts for concision and compassion in a narrative that balances historical fact with fully drawn characters...[S]ure to be a standout of 2023."

Guardian (UK) - Rachel Seiffert

"This Other Eden is a story of good intentions, bad faith, worse science, but also a tribute to community and human dignity and the possibility of another world. In both, it has much to say to our times."

New York Times - MJ Franklin

"[This Other Eden] is a harrowing tale of paradise lost and a lyrical examination of people in isolation just trying to get by…[It] is a novel that is both devastating and meditative, a combination that is characteristic of [Paul] Harding’s work."

Boston Globe - Carolyn Kellogg

"With gorgeous, often antique prose, Harding takes us into the prelapsarian world of the islanders…Harding has a gift for using language with intense precision that evokes his characters’ points of view."

Esi Edugyan

"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."

Major Jackson

"Tender, magical, and haunting, Paul Harding’s This Other Eden is that rare novel that makes profound claims on our present age while being, very simply, a graceful performance of language and storytelling. Here is prose that touchingly holds its imagined island community in a light that can only be described as generous and dazzling. I have not read a novel this achingly beautiful in a while, nor one in which the fate of its characters I will not soon forget."

Elizabeth McCracken

"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."

Harper's Magazine - Claire Messud

"[Paul Harding] writes with the gravitas of a mythmaker…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."

New York Times

A harrowing tale of paradise lost and a lyrical examination of people in isolation just trying to get by.”

JANUARY 2023 - AudioFile

In 1912, Maine’s governor forcibly evacuated a small community from their Malaga Island home, claiming the mixed-race inhabitants were morally and mentally deficient. This novel, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, is based on this tragic event. Ballerini's lyrical delivery highlights the poetic descriptions of the island's physical environment and the comfortable rhythms of daily life, bolstering listeners' empathy for the families struggling to do their best with what little they have. His tone becomes more straightforward when the narrative changes to historical documents and is gruffer when white male authorities begin to disrupt and disband the community. The character study draws a harsh, vivid distinction between the insular island people and the self-righteous outsiders who want to take over the island for their own use. C.B.L. © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine

Product Details

BN ID: 2940176806625
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 01/24/2023
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 367,292
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