A stunning novel about violence, power and love from the acclaimed author of The Yellow Birds.
'Achingly relevant' - Grazia
'Gorgeous and devastating' New York Times
'An American Civil War epic [which] confirms Powers as a significant talent' - Andrew Motion, Observer
'Contains moments that burn' Daily Mail
A stunning novel about violence, power and love by Kevin Powers, the acclaimed author of The Yellow Birds and winner of both the 2012 Guardian First Book Award and the Hemingway/PEN Award.
A nighttime whipping in a lamplit barn.
A ruined leg tossed onto a pile of discarded limbs.
A hand snuffing out a desperate cry behind a bedroom's locked door.
In A Shout in the Ruins, Kevin Powers returns to the battlefield and its aftermath, this time in his native Virginia, just before and during the Civil War and ninety years later. The novel pinpoints with unerring emotional depth the nature of random violence, the necessity of love and compassion, and the fragility and preciousness of life. It will endure as a stunning novel about what we leave behind, what a life is worth, what is said and unsaid, and the fact that ultimately what will survive of us is love.
Written with the same emotional intensity, harrowing realism, and poetic precision that made The Yellow Birds one of the most celebrated novels of the past decade, A Shout in the Ruins cements Powers' place as one of the most important novelists of our time.
'Beautifully formed sentences express unsettling truths about humanity, yet tendrils of hope emerge, showing how love and kindness can take root in seemingly barren earth.' - Sarah Johnson, Booklist
Kevin Powers was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. A former soldier who served with the US army in Iraq in 2004-5, he studied English at Virginia Commonwealth University after his honorable discharge and received an MFA in Poetry from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. His debut novel, The Yellow Birds, won the Guardian First book Award, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His first collection of poetry, Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting, was published in 2014 and was shortlisted for both the TS Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize.
An American Civil War epic [which] confirms Powers as a significant talent. — Andrew Motion, Observer
'Gorgeous, devastating... As in his first novel, The Yellow Birds, Powers details these inhumane acts with elegance, restraint and a refreshing absence of sentimentality. His spare, meticulous sentences lend a perverse beauty to even the most brutal passages of the novel and give immediacy and emotional heft to the ordeals of its characters... lays bare the tremendous suffering on which our country was founded and demands its acknowledgment. But Powers also offers love and grace in these pages, and a prayer for redemption. — New York Times
A work of historical fiction that is as unflinching an examination of our capacity for cruelty and violence as his debut. . . Powers packs much into a relatively short work. . . there is no mistaking the intensity of his vision and his ability to conjure up scenes that stick in the mind. . . A novel that memorably illustrates not only the ways in which violence breeds further violence but also the unrelenting power of the past to shape the present. — Sunday Times
Powers's prose is lyrical. . . his evocation of slavery-era Richmond is powerfully achieved. — Siobhan Murphy, The Times
The writing is beautiful and powerful. A Shout in the Ruins is confirmation, if it were needed, that Kevin Powers is a writer of rare talent. — FT
Ranging across time and following several characters whose lives become entangled by chance, family connection and conflict, Powers returns here - with similar, admirable compression - to themes he took up in his celebrated debut, The Yellow Birds . . . A Shout in the Ruins illuminates an entire lost era. — Laird Hunt, Literary Review
A harrowing and lyrical epic in miniature, Powers has written a novel excavated from another time, but which speaks profoundly to this one. — Elliot Ackerman, author of Dark at the Crossing
A daring voyage into and out of the darkest era in American history. — Observer
One of the chief rewards of this novel is that it speaks very much to the present through the generational interplay of its characters . . . It is told subtly and with great empathy: Powers once again demonstrates the precise eye for imagery and detail that is becoming the hallmark of his work. — Elliot Ackerman, TLS
This troubling, stirring book is informed by Mr Powers's deep understanding of war's complexities, and of how people are broken and shaped by it. — The Economist
With a complex structure reminiscent of Faulkner, Powers adroitly weaves his narrative threads together with subtle connections that reinforce his themes of longing for coherence and the continuing effect of the past on the present. An impressive novel of slavery, destruction, and the arduous difficulties of love. — Kirkus
Achingly relevant. — Grazia
Possesses the same intimate, lyrical power as his haunting debut . . . This is a fine, relevant novel from a notable author. — BookPage
Contains moments that burn. — Daily Mail
Suitably unvarnished, but not without moments of beauty or deep emotion. A Shout in the Ruins brushes aside myth and romanticism for a clear-eyed look at America. — Shelf Awareness
Beautifully formed sentences express unsettling truths about humanity, yet tendrils of hope emerge, showing how love and kindness can take root in seemingly barren earth. — Sarah Johnson, Bookli
Kevin Powers has seamlessly woven nineteenth and twentieth century lives to create a novel that resonates out of the past to address the most timely issues of America in our own century. The same striking language and contemplation of war and its aftermath that made The Yellow Birds such a lauded debut is on full display in A Shout in the Ruins. What an impressive novel. — Ron Rash
A masterpiece. Powers has written a novel that includes all the ferocity, complexity, and racial violence of the American South, from its fall to its eventual rebirth. — Philipp Meyer
This second novel, set in Powers's hometown of Richmond, VA, probes the grip of traumatic memory in the aftermath of the Civil War . . . A masterly meditation on our unbreakable connection to a world predicated on cyclical violence. — Joshua Finnell, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY
PRAISE FOR THE YELLOW BIRDS: Extraordinary . . . beautifully accomplished. The mark of an artist of the first order . . . a must-read book. — John Burnside, Guardian
A masterpiece . . . a classic. — The Times Books of the Year
A stunning achievement - visceral [and] poignant. — Sunday Times
Remarkable for its intensity of both feeling and expression. In this book about death, every line is a defiant assertion of the power of beauty to revivify, whether beauty shows itself in nature or (later) in art. — Hilary Mantel, Guardian Books of the Year
A wonderful, powerful novel that moves and terrifies. — Independent
Harrowing, inexplicably beautiful, and utterly, urgently necessary. — Ann Patchett
Kevin Powers has conjured a poetic and devastating account of war's effect on the individual. — Damian Lewis
Written with an intensity which is deeply compelling. — Colm Tóibín
This is a novel I've been waiting for. The Yellow Birds is born from experience and rendered with compassion and intelligence. All of us owe Kevin Powers our heartfelt gratitude. — Alice Sebold
Powers has written a compassionate, poetic evocation of war and its legacy which has already been hailed as a classic of its genre. — Sunday Express Books of the Year