Above the Ether
- 240 Pages
- June 4, 2019
- ISBN: 9781628729993
A mesmerizing novel of unfolding dystopia in a world very like our own, for readers of Emily St. John Mandel's Station 11 and Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood.
In a future very like today, Above the Ether follows six sets of characters moving through a landscape and a country just beginning to show the signs of change. A father and his young children fleeing a tsunami after a massive earthquake in the Gulf. A woman and her husband punished endlessly for the loss of both their sons in the wake of addiction, watching a fire slowly burn closer to their family home. A brilliant investor, assessing opportunity in the risk to crops, homes, cities, industries, infrastructure, working in the silent comfort of her office sixty floors up in the scorching air. A doctor and his wife stuck in a refugee camp for immigrants crossing the border. Two young men working the rides in a roadside carnival, one escaping a violent past, the other a racist present. A man who runs a chain of nondescript fast-food restaurants.
While every night the news alternates images of tsunami destruction with the baseball scores, the characters converge on a city far away, where the forces of change have already broken—a city abandoned, left to be scavenged as the levee system protecting it slowly fails—until, in their vehicles on the highway that runs through it, they witness the approach of what looks to be just one more violent storm.
“In bare-bones prose that is subtly affecting, the novel is a haunting portrait of why people form bonds and the many ways those bonds can be torn apart. . . . A story of adaption and the power of the human spirit.”—Foreword
"Barnes’s violent, haunted, and creepy novel about failing societies will attract readers of dark, postapocalyptic fiction."—Library Journal
Shelf Awareness, starred review
“An all too realistic novel that could easily be ripped from future newspaper headlines, The City Where We Once Lived is a compelling read from first page to last and reveals author Eric Barnes to have a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling. . . . Very highly recommended.”—Midwest Book Review
"Barnes's new novel is a rare and truly original work: a hard-edged fable, tender and unflinching, in which a man's descent and renewal is mirrored by his city. An eerie, beautifully written, and profoundly humane book."—Emily St. John Mandel, author of National Book Award finalist Station Eleven
"Written in a gorgeously spare language that perfectly reflects the dystopic future this novel depicts, The City Where We Once Lived kept me enthralled throughout. At the its core is a deep and admirable compassion for humanity."—Chris Offutt, author of Country Dark
"A stunningly-written tale of loss and grief. The stark beauty of Barnes's prose will pull you into a post-apocalyptic wasteland that is at once utterly foreign and hauntingly familiar. The City Where We Once Lived is a riveting journey through devastation, but one that delivers a world where seeds of hope emerge in the unlikeliest of places. It is a story of our time, but also timeless. It is a story of one man, but a story that speaks to each of us and for all of us. It is a story that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page." –Lindsay Moran, national bestselling author of Blowing My Cover
“An intensely envisioned work of dystopian realism and American desolation, beautifully drawn from the slow-motion apocalypse of everyday life.”—Christopher Brown, author of Tropic of Kansas
“Eric Barnes's The City Where We Once Lived is a most original novel, surprising and fierce—a dazzling puzzle of grief and utopia, dystopia and hope.”—Minna Zallman Proctor, author of Landslide "Spare and elegant, this novel brings into breathtaking relief a frighteningly recognizable future. Eric Barnes shows us what it means to inhabit—a building, a city, a life. And also what it means to be inhabited—by memories, by ghosts, and maybe, just maybe, by hope." —Elise Blackwell, author of The Lower Quarter and Hunger
"A controlled burn of a book, full of horror and sadness and, once the fire dies down, the beauty of new growth. In the tradition of J. G. Ballard and Margaret Atwood, Eric Barnes gives us a dying neighborhood of outcasts who save the world that has cast them out. Just the book we need in these dystopian times."—John Feffer, author of Splinterlands
“With deft prose and a discerning voice, The City Where We Once Lived is a taut examination of the archetypes and rituals that form the landscape of community.”—Courtney Miller Santo, author of Three Story House and The Roots of the Olive Tree
"This novel stuck with me. The voice is appealingly quiet, the atmosphere dreamlike, but the premise of poisoned ground, weather gone haywire, and a government that has thrown up its hands, is frighteningly real. The most remarkable thing is that even after hope is gone, kindness survives."—James Whorton, author of Approximately Heaven and Angela Sloan
“Barnes has constructed an intricate apocalyptic world that frighteningly mirrors present-day reality. Through stark yet intimate prose, Barnes explores themes of separatism and displacement and how the lenses we look through are often distorted by lack of connection and empathy. He offers a cautionary tale about a world that feels a hair's-breadth away.”—Malcolm Avenue Review
Recommended reads of April from Pop Cultured Nerd: “Taut with timely themes of climate change, waning empathy and lack of community, the story hits scarily close to home.”—Pop Cultured Nerd
“The City Where We Once Lived by Eric Barnes is a highly recommended look at a dying city that is part dystopian and part premonition.”—She Treads Softly