This Other Eden

Finalist, National Book Awards 2023 for Fiction

ISBN 9781324036296
W. W. Norton & Company
author photo of Paul Harding (Photo credit: Sam Harding)
Paul Harding

Paul Harding is the author of three novels, Tinkers, which won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Enon, and This Other Eden. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and PEN America. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

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 desperately 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.

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.

Judges Citation

This Other Eden is a powerful historical novel about the last days of a tiny, racially integrated community off the coast of Maine, as its inhabitants are noticed, then hated, then evicted by the mainland government. The islanders are poor, hungry, lawless, and incestuous, the children vulnerable to neglect and abuse. They are also resilient and tight knit, taking care of each other in ways the outside world doesn’t bother to understand. Paul Harding renders their flawed paradise with penetrating insight and boundless imagination. The book is full of marvels, thrilling prose, and scene after scene of exquisite pain and beauty.

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Paul Harding at the 2023 National Book Awards Finalist Reading

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