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This Other Eden

por Paul Harding

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4553355,072 (4)81
"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"--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 29 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I listened to this in audiobook format.

This novel presents a fictionalized account of the last inhabitants of Malaga Island off the coast of Maine. They were a mixed-race fully integrated society that lived a rustic, communal lifestyle until the government evicted them to build a resort. I was not aware of this horrific part of American History and the details are deeply disturbing, especially since they happened here in the 20th century. The writing was pastoral and full of Biblical imagery and Edoardo Ballerina (the narrator) is wonderful. I did have trouble keeping the characters and their relationships to other another straight, but it hardly matters for the plot. A good, short read. ( )
  technodiabla | May 15, 2024 |
I liked it, will read his others. ( )
  RaynaPolsky | Apr 23, 2024 |
This beautifully written book is an homage to the people of Apple Island, a fictitious place based on the true story of Malaga Island. This small island, settled in 1792, by a mixed-race couple was in existence until 1912 when its inhabitants were forcibly evacuated. The study of eugenics by those in power in Maine determined that they should be relocated, some to the Maine School for the "Feeble Minded." These were multi-racial people who had lived on the island for generations surviving through sheer tenacity, a love of the island and their community.

I couldn't help thinking about the indigenous people who were deemed better off living as the Caucasian invaders took their land and relocated many. It is a sad fact that our history demonstrates this bigotry and prejudice. I love the history of the people of Apple Island, who neither harmed nor judged each other. Paul Harding's writing is exquisite. ( )
2 vote pdebolt | Mar 5, 2024 |
NR -- DNF (did not finish, just skimmed after awhile). I just couldn't. I felt manipulated and damned. I've read plenty about eugenics shenanigans of this time period -- my own village here in New England suffered the attentions of the local university and terrorized some members of the local population back when. The people on Apple Island are presented as being in dire straits but also, somehow, quaint. Seriously? What happened to the people was cruel, but would any Social Services organization tolerate people living in these conditions nowadays? They would be just as bad, probably, although differently, and let us hope they would not dig up the bones of the dead. That was the last straw. Harding is relentless and so depressing -- he did not structure the book to offer one iota of . . . optimisn? forgiveness? for human beings. I should have guessed, for whenever I see the word 'lyrical' in a description of a novel I know it will be a) tragic and b) I will hate the overflowing puddle of pitifulness and sentiment I'll have to wade through. My book group chose this, so I gave it my best, not that that is saying much. Yes yes yes, the writing is quite beautiful in places, I have no issue with that so you might love it. So NR, no rating.
1 vote sibylline | Mar 3, 2024 |
Straightforward plot and tone: nothing and nobody will surprise you, all written from just the perspective you’d expect. The predictableness could make it dull, and make a reading of a solid piece of reportage on the actual events that inspired the novel the better choice, but for Harding’s prose style. It’s an ornamental decorative prose, seemingly always looking for an opportunity to burst the banks with more, more, more. At my most sympathetic it conjured up for me something admirably Whitmanesque. Sometimes it was just tiring, which I reckon is also something Whitmanesque!

Here for example is a character realizing he’ll miss his home:
Eha’s life and the lives of everyone on the island and everything they’ve done and enjoyed and suffered and nearly starved from and all the full moons and bright suns and green grass and blue skies and rain and snow and wind and clouds, tin cups, lead sinkers, cod and lobsters and clams and whelks and driftwood all begin to erupt in slow motion from the infinitely dense black point in Eha’s thought that is the meaning of this eviction, which at first his brain could not divulge to his understanding but is splitting open and disgorging as he sits looking at his house remembering so many things.


Here he is earlier having reached a decision about something important:

Eha sits on the stool, silent, eyes directed to the tabletop but seeing what who can tell and he suddenly seems so dense of matter to Matthew Diamond as to be monumental, the stool beneath him about to explode as if a block of marble has just been lowered onto it and it only remains to be seen along which exact grains in the wood it will explode and collapse beneath the monolithic man.


Always reaching for the dramatic, the exuberant, the prose is something like a bougainvillea threatening to overgrow its container, beautiful in a sectional closeup yet possibly too immoderate for its own good. It’s certainly for me the main reason for the thing, its argument, its claim, far more so than the history lesson, its admiration of the artist, or an alleged thought-provoking philosophical quality. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 29 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
In his latest novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding reimagines the history of a small mixed-race community’s devastating eviction from their homes...It’s 10 pages into Paul Harding’s new novel, “This Other Eden,” when I must surrender to the author’s lyric....I was unsure as I entered “This Other Eden”; the story opens with images of apples, the raging white of winter and tattered flags, which all felt grossly American....Yet the passages that put me on guard are the same ones that disarmed me. Harding’s prose is mesmerizing...Not without complication, not without terror, “This Other Eden” is ultimately a testament of love: love of kin, love of nature, love of art, love of self, love of home.
 
This Other Eden by Paul Harding review – a novel that impresses time and again...Harding’s gifts have found their fullest expression in This Other Eden. Pick any excerpt from these 200 pages and you will find that each sentence contains multitudes and works well by itself, and yet the chapters, the paragraphs, have also been sewn together into a numinous whole.... The novel impresses time and again because of the depth of Harding’s sentences, their breathless angelic light.
 
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Magda Island . . . was home to a mixed-race fishing community from the mid -1800s to 1912, when the state of Maine evicted 47 residents from their homes and exhumed and relocated their buried dead. Eight islanders were committed to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded. "I think the best plan would be to burn down the shacks with all of their filth," then Governor Frederick Plaisted told a reporter [at] the time. . .
[In 2002], the Maine legislature passed a resolution expressing its "profound regret."
- Maine Coast Heritage Trust
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For my wonderful mother, who made reading irresistable.
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Benjamin Honey - American, Bantu, Igbo - born enslaved - freed or fled at fifteen, only he knew - ship's carpenter, aspiring orchardist, arrived on the island with his wife, Patience, née Raferty, Galway girl, in 1793.
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"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"--

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