Shortlisted for the 2023 Booker Prize
Finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction
One of Barack Obama’s 15 favorite books of 2023 • A New Yorker Best Books of 2023 • An NPR 2023 “Book We Love” Pick and Top 10 Book of 2023 • One of Time’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2023 • One of the New York Times‘s 100 Notable Books of 2023 and Best Historical Fiction of 2023 • A Chicago Public Library Favorite Book of 2023 • A Fresh Air Top 10 Best Book of 2023 • A Publishers Weekly Best Fiction of 2023
“A testament of love.” ―Danez Smith, New York Times Book Review
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Tinkers, a novel inspired by the true story of Malaga Island, an isolated island off the coast of Maine that became one of the first racially integrated towns in the Northeast.
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.
In prose of breathtaking beauty and power, Paul Harding brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters: Iris and Violet McDermott, sisters raising three orphaned Penobscot children; Theophilus and Candace Larks and their brood of vagabond children; the prophetic Zachary Hand to God Proverbs, a Civil War veteran who lives in a hollow tree; and more. 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.