Natives and Exotics

By Jane Alison
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780151012015, 256pp.)

Publication Date: May 2005

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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A gardener flees the violence of the Clearances in early nineteenth-century Scotland for the Portuguese Azores, unaware that he will have a hand in destroying the earthly paradise he finds there. In 1929 his great-great-granddaughter, helping to settle the wilds of Australia, confronts troubling traces of her country's past. Forty years later her own granddaughter is ravished by the beauty of a South American country her diplomat parents are engaged in despoiling.

In the manner of W. G. Sebald's The Emigrants, the novel follows these three characters, linked by blood and legacy, through four stories that span a period from the discovery of the first dinosaur bones to the unsettling revelation that the continents drift. With cameo appearances by Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin, Natives and Exotics is a hypnotic meditation on our passionate, uneasy affair with nature, in which we restlessly search for home.

About the Author

JANE ALISON is the author of The Love-Artist and The Marriage of the Sea. Born in Canberra, Australia, she grew up in the foreign service and the United States. She now lives in Germany and teaches in the MFA program at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Praise For Natives and Exotics


"A small, twinkling jewel of a novel . . . Wonderfully seductive . . . [Alison] has found a voice, at once modern and archaic, lyrical and potent, that mesmerizes the reader."--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times


"Beautifully balanced . . . so that the urge to find out what will happen next is counteracted by the wish to luxuriate in Alison's lush, beautifully evocative writing."--San Francisco Chronicle

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