The New Earth: A Novel
A globe-spanning epic novel about a fractured New York family reckoning with the harms of the past and confronting humanity’s uncertain future, from award-winning author Jess Row
For fifteen years, the Wilcoxes have been a family in name only. Though never the picture of happiness, they once seemed like a typical white Jewish clan from the Upper West Side. But in the early 2000s, two events ruptured the relationships between them. First, Naomi revealed to her children that her biological father was actually Black. In the aftermath, college-age daughter Bering left home to become a radical peace activist in Palestine’s West Bank, where she was killed by an Israeli Army sniper.
Now, in 2018, Winter Wilcox is getting married, and her only demand is that her mother, father, and brother emerge from their self-imposed isolations and gather once more. After decades of neglecting personal and political wounds, each remaining family member must face their fractured history and decide if they can ever reconcile.
Assembling a vast chorus of voices and ideas from across the globe, Jess Row “explodes the saga from within—blows the roof off, so to speak, to let in politics, race, theory, and the narrative self-awareness that the form had seemed hell-bent on ignoring” (Jonathan Lethem). The New Earth is a commanding investigation of our deep and impossible desire to undo the injustices we have both inflicted and been forced to endure.
Praise for The New Earth: A Novel
“Richly imagined, reflexively neurotic and frequently quite dazzling.” — New York Times Book Review
“Row’s magisterial latest (after the essay collection White Flights) traces the complex dynamics of a New York City family on a geopolitical scale. . . . Moments of levity draw the reader in . . . and the author pulls off many moving metafictional moments. . . . This is Row’s best work yet.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Stupendously good…. Like Franzen’s The Corrections (2001), this is a family saga with a global perspective, sweeping across borders and time, from Israel to Chiapas to the northeastern U.S., from the utopian communes of the 1970s to the present, and exploring the impending climate disaster, colonialism, race, identity, and wealth, along with some metafictional musing. Each character’s story is a fascinating portal into contemporary life, adding up to a deeply moving, wonderfully engaging, and truly remarkable novel of the times.” — Booklist
“Jess Row interrogated American whiteness with great creative power in Your Face in Mine and White Flights. The New Earth extends his thinking on historical amnesia and erasure, race and family, in extraordinary ways.”
— Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen
"Riveting and brilliant, The New Earth throws down a gauntlet around Jewishness, diaspora, and the historical production of whiteness in America with such tremendous force that the novel feels epochal. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that the American literary landscape will be quite the same after the effects of this work are felt. A novel at once sprawling and deeply intimate, I had to stop reading many times simply to marvel at Row’s creation of this family and the book that holds them." — Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox
“[A] deeply ambitious, genre-defying work, which hops back and forth in time, shifts between various points of view, and incorporates a massive amount of politics and theory on race, Zen Buddhism, climate change, the history of Israel and Palestine, and, among other things, the novel itself as a literary form.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A rich, rollicking novel about a dysfunctional Jewish clan from the Upper West Side and the 2003 West Bank tragedy that derailed them. . . Row] gracefully balances multiple registers to craft a reader’s delight. . . . Row retains a deep affection for his cast, arguably more than they deserve. He breathes wondrous life into them. Their neuroses — so many neuroses — click into place. Each character’s thoughts scamper like mice through mazes, a science experiment gone wrong, and yet the data they yield bolsters a tale that’s both experimental and Balzacian, lighthearted and dead serious." — Washington Post