From the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Sentimentalists comes the story of a revolution on an imaginary island.
"Reading Island is a searing, vertiginous experience. Hailing Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to interrogate our current moment in history, Skibsrud has created an uncanny and uncomfortable representation of power deeply corrupted. The text feels both historic and futuristic; it is discomfiting and necessary. Don’t look away." - Erin Wunker, Notes From a Feminist Killjoy
On an imaginary island, one whose socio-economic divide runs deep, an insurrection is brewing. Over the course of a day, the lives of two women--one a rebel, one a diplomat--will be forever changed.
Lota is a restless islander who works at a fish factory but is looking for a larger life. When she meets charismatic leader Kurtz, her life comes into sharp focus. Together, Kurtz's group of misfits plot to overthrow the island's occupying power. They plan to charge the embassy. They plan to capture Ø Com's outer station--the gateway to the entire empire's wireless operations. History does not--Kurtz urges her soldiers--have to repeat itself. As the past and future converge on this one day, a new world order is within reach. They cannot fail.
Rachel is an anxious diplomat who is counting down the final hours of her service on the island. Her family has fled to the capital after escalating racial tensions have put her daughter's safety in jeopardy. She is eager to follow despite the fissures that are starting to show in her marriage. But when she arrives at the embassy and hears gunshots ringing through the corridors, she knows this is no ordinary day. As the hours lengthen and Rachel is held captive, she begins to wonder if she'll ever see her loved ones again and what her complicity has meant as the sinister operations of her government start to surface.
Part fantasy, part parable, Island deftly explores essential questions of history and responsibility. It asks us to consider our legacies of cultural imperialism and the hidden costs of our wireless world. Urgent, illuminating, and thought-provoking, it asks us how we can imagine a future that does not run along the exact same lines as the past.
About the author
Johanna Skibsrud is a novelist, poet and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arizona. Her debut novel, The Sentimentalists, was awarded the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, making her the youngest writer to win Canada's most prestigious literary prize. The book was subsequently shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Award and is currently translated into five languages. The New York Times Book Review describes her most recent novel, Quartet for the End of Time (Norton 2014) as a "haunting" exploration of "the complexity of human relationships and the myriad ways in which identity can be malleable." "It is exhilarating", writes the Washington Post, "to join a novelist working at these bracing heights." Johanna is also the author of two collections of short fiction: This Will Be Difficult to Explain (2011; shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award) and Tiger, Tiger (2018), a children's book, and three books of poetry. Her latest poetry collection, The Description of the World (2016), was the recipient of the 2017 Canadian Author's Association for Poetry and the 2017 Fred Cogswell Award. Johanna's poems and stories have been published in Zoetrope, Ecotone, and Glimmertrain Magazine, among numerous other journals. Her scholarly essays have appeared in, among other places, The Luminary, Excursions, Mosaic, TIES, and The Brock Review. A critical monograph titled The Poetic Imperative: A Speculative Aesthetics is forthcoming. A novel, Island, will also be published by Hamish Hamilton Canada in fall 2019.
- Long-listed, Sunburst Award For Excellence In Canadian Literature Of The Fantastic
Advance praise for Island:
"Reading Island is a searing, vertiginous experience. Hailing Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to interrogate our current moment in history, Skibsrud has created an uncanny and uncomfortable representation of power deeply corrupted. The text feels both historic and futuristic; it is discomfiting and necessary. Don’t look away." —Erin Wunker, author of Notes From a Feminist Killjoy
Featured on the CBC's list of "fiction to watch for this fall"
Praise for Johanna Skibsrud:
"It is exhilarating to join a novelist working at these bracing heights." —The Washington Post
"Skibsrud is a master . . . [she] can make your head spin and dares you to think.” —The Winnipeg Free Press
"Skibsrud is a writer of profound intelligence whose talent deserves applause." —The Chronicle-Herald
"Skibsrud crafts a fast-paced story of identity and insurrection . . . Island offers a thrilling vision of global corporate power played out in the lives of two headstrong and independent women who must confront various absences, including the intractable loss of identity." —Quill & Quire