Now out from Atelier26 Books, PERPETUA’S KIN is M. Allen Cunningham’s masterful new novel, 11 years in the making, about a family shaped as much by tumultuous world events as by each of its members’ long-kept secrets.
Benjamin Lorn, sensitive son of an embittered Civil War veteran, comes of age in the tiny Iowa town of Perpetua where, in a single summer, he mourns the recent loss of his mother, falls in love, and uncovers a shameful family secret that sends him fleeing west. Tormented with this new knowledge, Benjamin seeks transcendence through the telegraph wires that have enchanted him since boyhood. Meanwhile the weight of a dark duty grows more and more pressing.
An enthralling multi-generational mystery, reworking of Hamlet, and exploration of the American experience as one family embodies it, PERPETUA’S KIN spans much of North America over more than a century, from the 1820s Midwest, through the American south of the Civil War, to World War II San Francisco. Cunningham’s novel is a powerful portrait of this nation’s violent heritage, our vulnerability to the vastness of our own geography, our chronic restlessness and desire for regeneration through technology, and our inability to escape the history that forms us and, always, demands a reckoning.
“Gorgeous…devastating…lyrical…PERPETUA’S KIN is an addictive read with fully fleshed characters and a story that won’t unclasp its grip on you.” -Dianah H., Powell’s Books Staff Pick
“Cunningham has raised the bar on the art of the novel. I walk away from a reading like this ruminating on the largeness of life.” -Nancy Sheemaker, Northshire Bookstore Staff Pick (NY)
“Compelling characters…lyric majesty…a master storyteller.” -GINA OCHSNER
“Cunningham once again demonstrates that he is one of the bravest and most talented novelists writing today. With each page we gain the greatest gift of fiction: an insight into our own trembling humanity.” -EOWYN IVEY
“PERPETUA’S KIN blew me away with its stark, astonishing music. This is a flat-out brilliant book.” – LENI ZUMAS