“This multigenerational saga follows the fortunes of the Sel and Duke families from early Colonial days to the present, spanning centuries and continents as they make their living not only from the bounty of the land but also from the ravaging and destruction of it. As always, Proulx is brilliant at creating a story that flows impeccably, and her nature writing is some of the most beautiful and evocative to be found in modern literature. This novel is an epic work, a fictional Silent Spring that will linger with readers long after completion.”Bill Cusumano, Square Books
From Annie Proulx—the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain—comes her masterpiece, ten years in the writing: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness, set over two centuries.
In the late eighteenth century Rene Sel, an illiterate woodsman, makes his way from Northern France to New France to seek a living. Bound to a feudal lord, a “seigneur,” for three years in exchange for land, he suffers extraordinary hardship, always in awe of the forest he is charged with cleaning. Rene marries an Indian healer with children already, and they have more, mixing the blood of two cultures. Proulx tells the stories of the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of two lineages, the Sels and the Duquets, as well as the descendants of their allies and foes, as they travel back to Europe, to China, to New England, always in quest of a livelihood or fleeing stunningly brutal conditions—accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, the revenge of rivals.
Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid—in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope—that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable American writers of our time, and Barkskins is her Moby Dick.
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