Cygnet: A Novel, by Season Butler


“Season Butler has written an imaginative, atmospheric and original novel that lingers in the memory long after reading. She is a bright new voice in literature.”—Bernardine Evaristo, Booker Prize-winning author of Girl, Woman, Other

“Terribly moving. A clear-sighted, poignant rumination on loneliness, love, the melancholy of age and of youth—and, in its quiet way, the end of the world.”—China Miéville, author of Perdido Street Station

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The seventeen-year-old kid doesn’t know where her parents are. They left her with her grandmother Lolly, promising to return soon. That was months ago. Now Lolly is dead and the Kid is alone, stranded ten miles off the coast of New Hampshire on tiny Swan Island. The island is populated by an idiosyncratic group of elderly who call themselves Wrinklies who have left behind the youth-obsessed mainland—“the Bad Place”—to create their own elderly-only alternative community. The adolescent’s presence unnerves the Wrinklies. They don’t care if she has nowhere to go; they just want her gone. She is a reminder of all they’ve left behind and are determined to forget.

But the Wrinklies’ haven is eroding into the sea, threatening the Kid’s own house which edges closer to the cliffs each day. To find a way forward, the teenager must come to terms with the realities of her life, the inevitability of loss, and an unknown future that is hers alone to embrace. In this ferocious yet tender meditation on death and life, past and future, aging and youth, memory and forgetting, the luminous new literary talent Season Butler explores what it means to find acceptance—of things gone and of those yet to come.

Cygnet: A Novel, by Season Butler