Adam & Eve
By Sena Jeter Naslund
(William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061579271, 352pp.)
Publication Date: October 2010
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What happened to Eden?
The New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance returns with an audacious and provocative novel that envisions a world where science and faith contend for the allegiance of a new Adam & Eve
Her books have been hailed as "exceptional" (People); "enchanting" (Entertainment Weekly); "of great cultural and historical importance" (New York Times Book Review); and "original and affecting" (Los Angeles Times). One of the most imaginative and inspired writers of our time, Sena Jeter Naslund masterfully uses her craft to lay bare the poignant complexity of humanitythe passion and despair, the ignorance and frailty, the genius and resilience that define us. From Victorian London to civil-rights-era Alabama, from nineteenth-century New England to revolutionary Paris, her novels offer profound insight and startling truths about human experience. Now, with Adam & Eve, she delivers her most ambitious and encompassing tale to date.
Hours before his untimelyand highly suspiciousdeath, world-renowned astrophysicist Thom Bergmann shares his discovery of extraterrestrial life with his wife, Lucy. Feeling that the warring world is not ready to learn ofor acceptproof of life elsewhere in the universe, Thom entrusts Lucy with his computer flash drive, which holds the keys to his secret work.
Devastated by Thom's death, Lucy keeps the secret, but Thom's friend, anthropologist Pierre Saad, contacts Lucy with an unusual and dangerous request about another sensitive matter. Pierre needs Lucy to help him smuggle a newly discovered artifact out of Egypt: an ancient codex concerning the human authorship of the Book of Genesis. Offering a reinterpretation of the creation story, the document is sure to threaten the foundation of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions . . . and there are those who will stop at nothing to suppress it.
Midway through the daring journey, Lucy's small plane goes down on a slip of verdant land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Burned in the crash landing, she is rescued by Adam, a delusional American soldier whose search for both spiritual and carnal knowledge has led to madness. Blessed with youth, beauty, and an unsettling innocence, Adam gently tends to Lucy's wounds, and in this quiet, solitary paradise, a bond between the unlikely pair grows. Ultimately, Lucy and Adam forsake their half-mythical Eden and make their way back toward civilization, where members of an ultraconservative religious cult are determined to deprive the world of the knowledge Lucy carries.
Set against the searing debate between evolutionists and creationists, Adam & Eve expands the definition of a "sacred book," and suggests that true madness lies in wars and violence fueled by all religious literalism and intolerance. A thriller, a romance, an adventure, and an idyll, Adam & Eve is a tour de force by a master contemporary storyteller.
Sena Jeter Naslund is the author of six novels and two short story collections. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, she is a winner of the Harper Lee Award, a Distinguished Teaching Professor and Writer-in-Residence at the University of Louisville, and the program director of the Spalding University brief-residency MFA in Writing.
- What are the implications of Naslund's title Adam & Eve? Why did she use an ampersand instead of the word and? Why do you think she set the novel in the year 2020, "the year of clear vision"?
“[Adam & Eve] transcends the boundaries of the genres it flirts with. In the hands of a lesser storyteller, it might degrade into a flimsy pastiche, but Sena Jeter Naslund’s lyrical, exact prose kept me engaged.”
“Surprisingly affecting. ”
-New York Times Book Review
“This is a wonderful, wonderful novel ...[Naslund] has blown a deep breath of life into Four Spirits.”
-Detroit Free Press
“Filled with the fear Naslund witnessed, the characters ...come to life ....Naslund succeeds splendidly in making history a page-turner.”
“An intense treat, powerfully written, Ahab’s Wife is one of the best contemporary novels I have read in years.
-Louise Erdrich on Ahab's Wife
“Exceptional...A richly detailed portrait of an opulent, turbulent time, revealing the Queen’s journey from frivolity to responsibility, and from palace to prison cell to be one of striking beauty and terrible loss. 4 stars.”
“A wealth of period details...the queen faces imprisonment and beheading with both charm and a new dignity, even the most cynical reader will wish for a last-minute pardon.”
-Christian Science Monitor
“This is a brave and multifaceted book, propelled by a mission, and ...it is a page-turner.”
“To describe the elements of this ambitious novel is to sound unhinged, but Naslund pulls it off. This thriller is rich in brilliant discourses on religion, fanaticism, the meaning of ancient cave art, the speculative future, and love.”
-Library Journal on ADAM & EVE
-New York Times on ADAM & EVE
“[A] charming parable...but along the way, Naslund weaves into the story an effective condemnation of dogma and religious zealotry as well as an understated plea for open-mindedness and tolerance.”
“Adam & Eve is a book about passions—a carefully crafted mosaic of devoted love, gut-wrenching betrayal, religious extremism, scientific inquiry, artistic expression…a wonderfully imaginative romp.”
-Huntsville Times on ADAM & EVE
“Adam & Eve has the potential of making not simply a splash, but a small tsunami. The novel is nothing less than a futuristic gloss on all creation, pitting religious fundamentalism against the discovery of extraterrestrial life”
-Louisville Courier Journal
“[Naslund] shed[s] light on what the creation myth (and religious fanaticism) reveals about the human condition: that however formative our beginnings may be, they can always give way to the drama of rebirth. In Adam & Eve, Naslund asks, Which is really more important to us?”
“Naslund’s insight and craftsmanship ...capture the complexities and cultural nuances of the times.”
-San Diego Union-Tribune
“A really satisfying surprise ending.”
-Alabama Writers' Forum on ADAM & EVE
“Scrupulously researched and vividly presented…it’s an irresistible story, and Naslund handles its big moments…with impressive assurance. Naslund has done her homework, and imagined her complex, bewitching protagonist in persuasive depth and detail. The result is an exemplary historical novel. ”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org