Barren IslandBarren Island

$26.00 hardcover | 408 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-936970-44-5
Publication Date: January 2017
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AWP Award Series for the Novel

Barren Island is a wonderful synthesis of character and history. From the moment Marta Eisenstein Lane begins to tell us about her remarkable family’s lives on the rank, forsaken sand bar of Barren Shoal, rendering animal carcasses into glue, the author immerses us in a world most readers would never otherwise have known existed. As squalid and hardscrabble as these lives may be, they are also suffused with strange beauty and love by Marta’s solicitude and honesty. Barren Island is big-hearted, generous, and fascinating.”
—Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Tinkers

“What isn’t Carol Zoref’s remarkable first novel about? Set on a tiny, precarious, repugnant and rank splinter of land where New York City’s dead horses were once rendered into grease, her book is nevertheless rich with family, friendship, romance and incipient moral consciousness on a tiny precarious planet with the smell of fascism in the air. In every way that matters, Barren Island is abundant.”
—Melvin Jules Bukiet, author of After, Strange Fire and other books

“What’s extraordinary about Barren Island isn’t just its wild corner of history—a shoal off the shores of Brooklyn, whose factory boils down animal carcasses for ‘glue and grease’—but its remarkable imagining of the lives of families there. At its center is a resourceful young girl coming of age, and the novel does what only fiction can do—it presents the human intricacies we could hardly guess. An amazing piece of work.”
—Joan Silber, National Book Award Finalist for Ideas of Heaven: A Ring of Stories, PEN/Hemingway Award for Household Words

“With warmth, intelligence, and a wryly humane voice, Carol Zoref gives us an unforgettable heroine and shines a light on a forgotten chapter of the American story. Richly atmospheric and deeply tender, Barren Island is a thought-provoking pleasure.”
—Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening and Florence Gordon

Carol Zoref

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Carol Zoref is a fiction writer and essayist. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. She lives in New York City.