A stunning, heart-breaking literary debut with the feel of a big American classic.
'A beautiful, evocative novel with an amazing sense of place and an understated, dark sensibility. A brilliant debut. I loved it!' Jenni Fagan, author of The Panopticon
Mesmeric in its prose and mythic in its sweep, THE BARROWFIELDS is an extraordinary debut about the darker side of devotion, the limits of forgiveness, and the reparative power of shared pasts.
Just before Henry Aster's birth, his father, a frustrated novelist and lawyer, reluctantly returns to the remote North Carolina mountains in which he was improbably raised and installs his young family in a gothic mansion - nicknamed 'the vulture house' - worthy of his hero Edgar Allan Poe. There, Henry grows up under the desk of this fierce and brilliant man. But when a death in the family tips his father toward a fearsome unravelling, what was once a young son's reverence is poisoned, and Henry flees, not to return until years later when he, too, must go home again.
Phillip Lewis is a writer living in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Barrowfields is his first novel.
A work of abundant talent — New York Times
A beautiful, evocative novel with an amazing sense of place and an understated, dark sensibility. A brilliant debut. I loved it! — Jenni Fagan, author of The Panopticon
A novel this good is a rare thing. Elegiac and timeless, THE BARROWFIELDS is an unforgettable evocation of an American saga gone wrong. Reading it is like cracking open the tattered first edition of a classic you somehow missed but just pulled from your father's bookshelf. — David Gilbert, author of & Sons
THE BARROWFIELDS knows that the worst hauntings happen not in old houses but in troubled minds. The psychological landscape is craggy in this vivid update on Southern Gothic steeped in gorgeous vernacular and full of characters ready to walk off the page. A narrator cultivated from birth like a hothouse flower to redeem his father's thwarted ambitions finds the ruthless strength to escape the gravity of a doomed life, but at great cost. Revelations abound about family secrets as the dextrous narrative shifts between viscerally urgent and beautifully languorous. Lewis goes down to the depths and back up in this powerfully hopeful book, and the reader is helpless in his hands.
— Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves
Majestic and rich with the textures of life, Phillip Lewis's THE BARROWFIELDS is one of the great discoveries of the year. This is adebut so assured in its sense of place and history that it will leave you in awe of what Lewis has accomplished here: a sorrowful, beautiful ode to the bond of family, the ghosts that haunt us, and the stories that shape us.' — Paul Yoon, author of Snow Hunters
Beautifully written and deeply moving, THE BARROWFIELDS is a novel that centers on a man conflicted between his love of family and his devotion to literature. Phillip Lewis is a very talented writer, and his debut deserves a wide and appreciative readership. — Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena and Above the Waterfall
In this charming, absorbing, and assured debut novel, a young man tries to make sense of his father's life and the passions that unite them-namely, a devotion to literature and a rueful nostalgia for their Appalachian homeland. . . . Lewis evokes his settings beautifully, and his prose is bracingly erudite. This debut has the ability to fully immerse its readers. — Publishers Weekly
Stunning . . . rich in character and place, steeped in literature and music, and fraught with family drama. . . . With clear echoes of Poe and Wolfe, THE BARROWFIELDS also gives a nod to Richard Russo by reflecting an appreciation for the eccentricities of regional characters. . . . Lewis has put Old Buckram firmly on the map. — Shelf Awareness
In his evocative debut about disenchantment and identity, Lewis captures the longing of a southerner separated from his home, his family, and his ambition... Like fellow North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe, Lewis tackles the conflicting choice between accepting one's roots and rejecting the past, and he does so with grace, wit, and an observant eye. — Booklist