In the not-too-distant future, fires have ravaged much of the world, and America, like much of the world, has been taken over by extremists. Even the isolated Maine woods have become too dangerous. The only option is for Lark and his family to escape to Ireland, the only country still open to refugees. But during the harrowing voyage, not only does tragedy strike at every turn, but hopes for a peaceful resettlement are dashed. Can Lark, with the help of two newfound companions (one canine) find peace in the legendary settlement of Glendalough? I’m not generally a dystopian reader, but Lark Ascending’s beautiful language and imagery, combined with the emotional heft of the story, drew me in from the first paragraph.— Daniel Goldin
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If, like me, you have a less-than-sunny outlook on the prospect of avoiding simultaneous civil collapse and climate catastrophe in your lifetime, then you may find it counterintuitive when I tell you this novel of a young man running from the aftermath of those very events is the most comforting thing I’ve read all year. A dark book for dark times, Lark Ascending is, all the same, written so beautifully, full of honesty and compassion. In his old age, Lark recalls his harrowing journey to escape an America ruled by fundamentalist and swept by massive fires, sail across a stormy Atlantic, and trek across Ireland to a thin place that may offer sanctuary. House offers something necessary - hope that through all the violence, hatred, death, scarcity, and destruction of the impending collapse, a glimmer of humanity might remain.— Chris Lee
It's Lark's clear voice that carries us through many terrifying moments. As an old man, he's asked to write the “whole particulars” of how he came to be in Ireland, starting with the ocean crossing after America became a war-torn, burning wasteland, and then looking further back to the way his family survived and escaped North America. They headed for the one place Lark’s parents thought they could be safe. All the while, he insists on living. There’s so much regret inside the grief, but ascend he does. And he has reasons: the people he loves who told him not to give up, and the sudden appearance of a dog. Protecting a dog is surely enough reason to live. Ascension defines the novel. The writing ascends to uncommon heights of beauty while affirming life as the refusal to submit, even when the desire to quit is relentless. Lark Ascending is brave in a way we desperately need, brave enough to see beauty through enormous pain. It’s also a warning. House makes us feel that this could easily happen to us, and soon.— Tim McCarthy
Lark grows up as climate-driven wars pit gun-toting fanatics intent on complete control against loosely formed bands of resisters. While most of Lark's early life is spent idyllically at a distance, he is finally forced to travel a long distance through war zones. Lark recounts times of bliss and harrowing moments of horror with equally affecting and lovely prose.— Kay Wosewick
A riveting story of survival and hope, set in the not-too-distant future, about a young man forced to flee the United States and seek refuge across the Atlantic.
As fires devastate most of the United States, Lark and his family secure a place on a refugee boat headed to Ireland, the last country not yet overrun by extremists and rumored to be accepting American refugees. But Lark is the only one to survive the trip, and once ashore, he doesn’t find the safe haven he’d hoped for. As he runs for his life, Lark finds an abandoned dog who becomes his closest companion, and then a woman in search of her lost son. Together they form a makeshift family and attempt to reach Glendalough, a place they believe will offer protection. But can any community provide the safety that they seek?
For readers of novels such as Station Eleven, The Dog Stars, and Migrations, Lark Ascending is a moving and unforgettable story of friendship, family, and healing.
About the Author
Silas House is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, one book of creative nonfiction, and three plays. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Advocate, Time, Garden & Gun, and other publications. A former commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered, House is the winner of the Nautilus Award, the Storylines Prize from the NAV/New York Public Library, an E. B. White Honor, and many other awards.
“In Lark Ascending, Silas House casts an irresistible spell, conjuring a near future that is both familiar and unbearable, illuminating the brutality and suffering that our own thoughtless age seems determined to invoke. But Lark Ascending is not merely, or even mainly, a tale of pain and grief. This beautiful book is shot through with such tenderness and humanity, such love and courage and beauty and hope, that it feels almost like a prayer.”
“Silas House has always served as an ancestor from the past who has stepped into the present with rich lessons in tow. But with Lark House reveals himself to be an oracle from the future who has come back to illuminate our lived moment with a snapshot of what the years ahead could hold. The vision is terrifying and spare, but in House’s capable and delicate telling, it is also beautiful and compelling. Lark marks a stunning turn in House’s career, taking him from the Appalachian Mountains to a post-apocalyptic Atlantic crossing, but I have no doubt that readers will follow Silas House wherever he goes, whether into the past or headlong into the future.”—Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of When Ghosts Come Home
“A postapocalyptic epic that is quiet and lyrical…an emotional testament to the power of hope.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A fiercely visceral reading experience.”—Publishers Weekly
“A cleareyed and engaging apocalyptic yarn.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The not-too-distant dystopia of House’s latest becomes a vehicle for the author to tell a compelling story about a refugee crisis. Because House takes the story out of a contemporary context, readers can more easily empathize with the novel’s refugees rather than focusing on real-world quandaries.”—Library Journal
“Silas House’s “Lark Ascending” is a dystopian classic, finding new notes of peril and possibility in the once-and-future homeland of Ireland and giving us the kind of richly observed alternative family that humanity of any era would call savior. It also has the best dog ever, excepting my own. Don’t miss this one.”—Louis Bayard, author of Jackie and Me
“I was sucked into this urgent story where survival in the not-too-distant future depends on forging connections with strangers and nurturing tenderness and hope within. An essential, heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting read.”—Michelle Gallen, author of Factory Girls
“Just astonishing . . .terrifying, moving, beautiful, instructive, and haunting. I have never been more deeply moved by a novel.”—Lee Smith, author of Dimestore
“With Lark Ascending, the gifted Silas House has, with the most deft and masterful touches, forged a quite terrifying and all-too-plausible glimpse of our near future and somehow imbued it with almost impossible quantities of poetry and humanity. A gripping story of endurance, suffering and loss, but also of overwhelming love, loyalty and hope, the result is a hugely impressive feat of the imagination . . . A beautiful, haunting piece of work, and a compulsive read.” —Billy O'Callaghan, author of Life Sentences and The Dead House