The Blue Book of Nebo

Manon Steffan Ros, trans. from the Welsh by the author. Deep Vellum, $19.95 (156p) ISBN 978-1-64605-100-7
Ros (The Seasoning) delivers a spare and intimate story of a family surviving a near-future global apocalypse. Rowenna, 36, supplies her 14-year-old son, Dylan, with a notebook she found in the nearby Welsh village of Nebo, and in it they take turns writing stories of what’s happened since “The End”—which began eight years earlier with reports of bombings of major cities in the U.S. and U.K. They grow vegetables and trap rabbits for food, and Dylan and his two-year-old sister, Mona, keep a mutated hare as a pet. Dylan feels unnerved after realizing he doesn’t know how Rowenna came to be pregnant with Mona, given that everyone else had either fled, joined mutually annihilating gangs, or died in their homes from the fallout of a nuclear power plant explosion shortly after The End. Rowenna writes of both children’s fathers, sharing stories of human weakness and grace. Ros’s restrained, slow drip of details about the outer world feels plausible and horrifying, and Dylan’s interest in the Welsh language (“that weird ll sound, like air escaping from the sides of the tongue”), which Rowenna has largely forgotten, engenders both poignancy and hope. In a time rife with and ripe for stories of the end, this one stands out. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/26/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-64605-101-4
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