Announcing Sorrowland, a New Work of Gothic Fiction from Rivers Solomon

Sean McDonald at MCD has acquired Rivers Solomon’s Sorrowland, a genre-bending work of gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalization of society’s undesirables, about a Black woman with albinism, the mother of infant twins, who is hunted after escaping a religious compound, then discovers that her body is metamorphosing and that she is developing extra-sensory powers. The deal was negotiated by Seth Fishman at The Gernert Company (World).

Alone in the woods, a hunted woman gives birth to twins and raises them away from the influence of the outside world.  But something is wrong – not with them, but with her own body. It’s itching, it’s stronger, it’s… not normal.

To understand her body’s metamorphosis, Vern must investigate not just the secluded religious compound she fled but the violent history of dehumanization, medical experimentation, and genocide that produced it. In the course of reclaiming her own darkness, Vern learns that monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire histories, systems, and nations.

From the author:

“Life in the margins is an uncanny existence.

Society’s undesirables are likened to the stuff of nightmares, alternatingly deemed inhuman, hysterical, unhinged, hyperviolent, hypersexual—monsters. The speculative, then, is the perfect space within literary fiction to investigate the surreality of these experiences, to question what it means to be a real-life Frankenstein’s creature. Literature has long grappled with the monstrous and I wrote Sorrowland as a part of the literary tradition that problematizes who and who isn’t branded the monster.”

Rivers Solomon is the author of the Lambda, Hurston/Wright, Tiptree, and Locus shortlisted debut novel An Unkindness of Ghosts, which was published by Akashic books and has sold over 25,000 copiesIn addition to appearing on the Stonewall Honor List and winning a Firecracker Award, their debut was considered a best book of the year by NPR, the Guardian, and Publishers Weekly. See below for selected press.

An Astounding Award (formerly the John W. Campbell) nominee two years running, Solomon writes stories that cross genre. Their shorter work has been featured in Black Warrior Review, the New York Times Opinion, Guernica, Best American Short Stories,, and elsewhere. Their second book, The Deep (inspired by and in collaboration with Daveed Diggs’ band clipping), is forthcoming November 2019 and has already received starred reviews, and they collaborated with authors Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, and SL Huang on the Serial novel The Vela.

Sorrowland is scheduled for publication in Winter 2021 with MCD Books.


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