Sorrowland is the beautifully written, suspenseful story of Vern, a teen escapee from an all-Black utopian commune where the powers that be may have been colluding with the Feds to experiment on Black bodies. A genre-defying blend of Gothic, hard sci-fi, literary fiction, and social justice, Sorrowland is dizzying, bold, and completely gripping. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A triumphant, genre-bending breakout novel from one of the boldest new voices in contemporary fiction
Vern — seven months pregnant and desperate to escape the strict religious compound where she was raised — flees for the shelter of the woods. There, she gives birth to twins, and plans to raise them far from the influence of the outside world.
But even in the forest, Vern is a hunted woman. Forced to fight back against the community that refuses to let her go, she unleashes incredible brutality far beyond what a person should be capable of, her body wracked by inexplicable and uncanny changes.
To understand her metamorphosis and to protect her small family, Vern has to face the past, and more troublingly, the future — outside the woods. Finding the truth will mean uncovering the secrets of the compound she fled but also the violent history in America that produced it.
Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland is a genre-bending work of Gothic fiction. Here, monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire nations. It is a searing, seminal book that marks the arrival of a bold, unignorable voice in American fiction.
"Sorrowland, from Rivers Solomon, is a fantastical, fierce reckoning. It is the story of Vern, a young girl fleeing the only life she has ever known, her abusive husband, the cult he leads, to create a life for herself and her babies. But the tentacles of Cainland, the home she left, are always following her as she grows into a young woman and something more, something terrifying and powerful that just might allow her to break free from all that haunts her. Sorrowland is gorgeous and the writing, the storytelling, they are magnificent. This country has a dark history of what it’s willing to do to black bodies and Rivers Solomon lays that truth bare in a most unexpected, absolutely brilliant way." Roxane Gay
“Sorrowland is a wonderland of fantastical and frightening, magical and real, in a world refreshingly unlike ours, yet scarily the same. At the center of this world and leaping off the page is Vern: unstoppable, unforgettable, and unlike anyone you have ever seen before.” Marlon James, author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
“Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon contains so much wisdom and insight, wrapped in an abundance of passion and fury and tenderness. This is the first book I've read in ages that I'm certain I will come back to again and again, because there are rich gorgeous passages that I already know will mean more to me on subsequent readings. There is so much going on in this book, too: the spectre of what happens when rebellion is co-opted, our longstanding practice of using Black bodies for cruel and unethical experiments, the audacity of queer love. The arc of this book takes Vern and her babies away from civilization and then back to it — but they return changed, and they change everyone else, and this book restored my faith in our potential to transform just when I needed it most.” Charlie Jane Anders
About the Author
Rivers Solomon writes about life in the margins, where they are much at home. In addition to appearing on the Stonewall Honor List and winning a Firecracker Award, Solomon's debut novel An Unkindness of Ghosts was a finalist for a Lambda, a Hurston/Wright, an Otherwise (formerly Tiptree) and a Locus award. Solomon's second book, The Deep, based on the Hugo-nominated song by Daveed Diggs-fronted hip-hop group clipping, was the winner of the 2020 Lambda Award and shortlisted for a Nebula, Locus, Hugo, Ignyte, Brooklyn Library Literary, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy award. Solomon's short work appears in or is forthcoming from Black Warrior Review, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Guernica, Best American Short Stories, Tor.com, Best American Horror and Dark Fantasy, and elsewhere. A refugee of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, Solomon was born on Turtle Island but currently resides on an isle in an archipelago off the western coast of the Eurasian continent.