cover image Alexandria


Paul Kingsnorth. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (408p) ISBN 978-1-55597-035-2

Kingsnorth’s underwhelming ecofable—the last of a trilogy, after Beast—focuses on the few surviving members of a separatist religious sect in what is left of eastern England, 1,000 years in the future. Sfia, married to Nzil, has been sleeping with the community’s other young adult man, the grown child of their elder leaders. Sfia venerates the goddess Lady, whose naturalist teachings run counter to those of the godlike Wayland. Wayland reads as an all-powerful AI creation from the previous “Atlantean” age, though his true nature eventually emerges. K, Wayland’s emissary, stalks all remaining humans to convince them to upload to a heavenlike Alexandria, as part of a plot to restore Earth by convincing humans to kill their physical bodies and “ascend.” Told in alternating first-person chapters in an invented article-less dialect of English presumably evolved over time in extreme isolation, Kingsnorth’s overly romantic nature epic pummels the reader with a pessimistic view of the human condition, casting the drive to consumption, violence, and bigotry as essentially human. Awkward attempts at gender essentialism don’t help (“i am woman. i am blood. it is me blood”; “all mens bodies singin when they capture, when they kill, in blood of triumph, it is Way”). This is an easy one to take a pass on. Agent: Jessica Woollard, David Higham Assoc. (Oct.)