Vendor
Brandt & Hochman Agency
Published by
Norton (2013-08)
Current material
1st Pass Pages
Original language
English
Themas
Biography, Literature & Literary studies
BACK

ARCHANGEL

by Barrett, Andrea

Barrett, winner of the National Book Award for her story collection Ship Fever, has a remarkable ability to capture the essence of the natural world, as if describing a perfect snowflake. Her newest offering of interconnected stories pulls together (by happenstance) earnest, intelligent, and fallible characters, and their interactions are life-altering.

In this magnificent new book, Barrett unfolds five pivotal moments in the lives of her characters and in the history of knowledge.

During the summer of 1908, twelve-year-old Constantine Boyd is witness to an explosion of home-spun investigation—from experiments with cave-dwelling fish without eyes to scientifically bred crops to motorized bicycles and the flight of an early aeroplane. In 1920, a popular science writer and young widow tries, immediately after the bloodbath of the First World War, to explain the new theory of relativity to an audience (herself included) desperate to believe in an “ether of space” housing spirits of the dead. Half a century earlier, in 1873, a famous biologist struggles to maintain his sense of the hierarchies of nature as Darwin’s new theory of evolution threatens to make him ridiculous in the eyes of a precocious student. The twentieth-century realms of science and war collide in the last two stories, as developments in genetics and X-ray technology that had once held so much promise fail to protect humans—among them, a young American soldier, Constantine Boyd, sent to Archangel, Russia, in 1919—from the failures of governments and from the brutality of war.
In these brilliant fictions rich with fact, Barrett explores the thrill and sense of loss that come with scientific progress and the personal passions and impersonal politics that shape all human knowledge.

Andrea Barrett is the author of The Air We Breathe, Servants of the Map (finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), The Voyage of the Narwhal, Ship Fever (winner of the National Book Award), and other books. She teaches at Williams College and lives in northwestern Massachusetts.

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Comments

The award-winning author returns with another collection of stories distinguished by uncommon scope and depth…. Barrett's stories rank with the best.

Quote: Kirkus

Barrett, whose novel Ship Fever won the 1996 National Book Award, dwells on the intersections between science (her interests include genetics, astronomy, and zoology) and ethics (love, purpose, solace).

Review: Publishers Weekly

Readers familiar with Barrett’s work will embrace this new volume; those who have yet to discover her intriguing style will find much to consider. A delight for informed readers of challenging literary fiction.

Quote: Library Journal

Her stories work as both fiction and as philosophy of science. And she need do no grandstanding to advance her belief in unstoppable progress. But this book does offer a powerfully human sense of the struggle it takes for new ideas to dislodge old ones.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/books/archangel-by-andrea-barrett.html?hpw&pagewanted=all&_r=0

Review: New York Times

At last! It's finally here: the astonishing new collection from that genius-enchantress, Andrea Barrett. Who but Barrett can take on the inscrutable elegance of the cosmos and the messy complexity of the human heart in a single story? In her joy-to-read prose, with scientific precision and warm insight, Barrett translates the unknown into our world of reference. Her characters' thirst for discovery is contagious, and every story in Archangel is suffused with the most miraculous horizon light.

Review: Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove

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