Barkskins (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


Ms. Proulx's tome is not an easy, fun read but is well worth the effort for a diligent reader. Barkskins traces the history of two families from 1693 to the present day.  Charles Duquet is a Frenchman who acquires Canadian land for the purpose of sawing timber and shipping it short and long distances.  Rene Sel is his indentured servant who eventually marries a woman of the Mi'kmaw tribe.  His heirs continue to practice the traditions and rituals of that tribe for hundreds of years.   By following the lineage of both families and what they represent, Ms. Proulx artistically depicts what has happened to the forests in Canada and The United States during the last three centuries.  In addition, she has provided her readers with a number of unique, not-to-be-forgotten characters. 

— Nancy Randall

July 2016 Indie Next List


“This multigenerational saga follows the fortunes of the Sel and Duke families from early Colonial days to the present, spanning centuries and continents as they make their living not only from the bounty of the land but also from the ravaging and destruction of it. As always, Proulx is brilliant at creating a story that flows impeccably, and her nature writing is some of the most beautiful and evocative to be found in modern literature. This novel is an epic work, a fictional Silent Spring that will linger with readers long after completion.”
— Bill Cusumano (M), Square Books, Oxford, MS

Description


Finalist for the Kirkus Prize for Best Novel
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year

From the Pulitzer Prize---winning author of The Shipping News and "Brokeback Mountain," comes the New York Times bestselling epic about the demise of the world's forests: "Barkskins is grand entertainment in the tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy...the crowning achievement of Annie Proulx's distinguished career, but also perhaps the greatest environmental novel ever written" (San Francisco Chronicle).

In the late seventeenth century two young Frenchmen, Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters--barkskins. Rene suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a native woman and their descendants live trapped between two cultures. But Duquet runs away, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Annie Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years--their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand--the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.

"A stunning, bracing, full-tilt ride through three hundred years of US and Canadian history...with the type of full-immersion plot that keeps you curled in your chair, reluctant to stop reading" (Elle), Barkskins showcases Proulx's inimitable genius of creating characters who are so vivid that we follow them with fierce attention. "This is Proulx at the height of her powers as an irreplaceable American voice" (Entertainment Weekly, Grade A), and Barkskins "is an awesome monument of a book" (The Washington Post)--"the masterpiece she was meant to write" (The Boston Globe). As Anthony Doerr says, "This magnificent novel possesses the dark humor of The Shipping News and the social awareness of 'Brokeback Mountain.'
Product Details
ISBN: 9780743288798
ISBN-10: 0743288793
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Publication Date: April 11th, 2017
Pages: 736
Language: English