Poplar Farm has been in Louise’s family for generations, inherited by her sharecropping forebears from a white landowner after a lynching. Now, the farm has been carved up, the trees torn down; a mini-massacre replicating the destruction of lives and societies taking place all over America.
Architect of this destruction is Paul Krovik, a property developer soon driven insane by the failure of his dream. Julia and Nathaniel arrive from Boston with their son, Copley, and buy up Paul’s signature home in a foreclosure sale. They move into the half-finished subdivision and settle in to their brave new world. Yet violence lies just beneath the surface of this land, and simmers deep within Nathaniel. The great trees bear witness, Louise lives on in her beleaguered farmhouse, and as reality shifts, and the edges of what is right and wrong blur and are lost, Copley becomes convinced that someone is living in the house with them.
Published by Riverhead (US) and Atlantic Books (UK) in 2013. Translation have appeared in France (Robert Laffont), Italy (Garzanti), Spain (Galaxia Gutenberg), the Netherlands (De Bezige Bij), and Norway (Cappelen Damm); translation forthcoming in Poland (Świat Książki). Unabridged audiobook available from W.F. Howes.
What the critics Said
"Flanery is a talented writer with a dynamic and frightening vision of the role that corporations and security have in American life." … "[A]n engaging attempt to identify the source of sourceless rage and the reasons an American dream, once achieved, can feel empty. It speaks especially eloquently to our uncertain times." - David Vann, New York Times
“a superb portrayal of how ordinary men can veer into madness, but its real power lies in its recognition of the tragic failure of an American dream" ."Patrick Flanery takes up the challenge of what DeLillo calls 'the American mystery' in a new novel that also explores the dark shadows cast by history and old lies". - John Burnside, The Guardian
“Fallen Land illustrates the complex and often unpredictable ways that the past interacts with the present.” “the book is downright exhilarating...a function of its energy and stylistic restlessness”, “the real excitement ... is the sustained fury that Flanery brings to his depiction of contemporary America ... it paints a chilling picture of a society deranged by violence, paranoia and its own fantasies of self-reliance. In the end, these fantasies and the cycles of dispossession and violence they fuel lie at the heart of this powerful and often dazzling novel. As the final pages suggest, the sins of the past cannot ever be fully expunged; they continue to reverberate down through time.” - James Bradley, The Washington Post
"combines old-style suspense with a chilling picture of modern America"; "an ambitious novel, using a thriller vehicle for a dissection of America"; "Fallen Land impressively examines how thoroughly the American dream has turned into the American nightmare". - Phil Baker, The Sunday Times
"thrillingly tense and atmospheric" - David Evans, The Financial Times
"Flanery's damning indictment of post-crash America is a multi-layered book that effortlessly switches genres, from literary fiction to thriller, mystery and back again. Complex and compelling..." - Monocle
"with a touch that's always somewhere between deft and dazzling" ... "Flanery is ... a writer who can do more or less anything" - James Walton, The Daily Telegraph
"The most terrifying thing about the dystopia described in Fallen Land is that it is also a contemporary state-of-the-nation novel. The nightmare America it maps is the same one we read, watch or hear about daily, in which government agencies spy on citizens, where illegal immigrants are demonised and a mostly black underclass is held in a prison gulag vast as Stalin's archipelago. Here is a land where rolling natural disasters presage even greater calamity, and where everything from corn to individual DNA is being patented. If ever you wanted an antidote to the exquisitely anodyne self-representations bruited about the world by the US via satellite and fibre-optic cable, then this is the book with which to disabuse yourself." - Geordie Williamson, The Australian
"gripping" ... "Flanery's prose is lucid, his descriptions of the land detailed and rich" - Leyla Sanai, The Independent on Sunday
Fallen Land is a taut and gripping portrayal of a land and people caught in the gears of the American machine. After reading this and Absolution, I will follow Patrick Flanery anywhere he goes.
- Charlotte Rogan, author of The Lifeboat