A Shout in the Ruins (Hardcover)

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It's still pretty early in the year but I'm pretty confident when I say that this will be one of the best works of fiction you are likely to read in 2018. Kevin Powers announced his arrival on the literary scene with his debut Yellow Birds, a powerful novel of modern war which went on to be a finalist for the National Book Award. Now he returns with a searing story of the Civil War and its long aftermath. Spanning over one hundred years and featuring a cast of characters whose lives are interwoven seamlessly, A Shout in the Ruins is a stunning achievement.

— From Cody's 2018 Picks

Spanning over a century, beginning prior to the Civil War, the lives of people both free and slave centered on a Virginia plantation are intertwined as the must deal with and suffer the consequences of the nation's defining conflict. Written with poetic prose the novel serves as an exposition and indictment of the violence that has shaped and is inherent to American culture. This is a powerful, provocative yet beautiful work that is sure to gather laurels come award season but is also, more importantly, one that will endure. A spectacular achievement.

— From Bill's 2018 Picks


Set in Virginia during the Civil War and a century beyond, this novel by the award-winning author of The Yellow Birds explores the brutal legacy of violence and exploitation in American society.
"A masterpiece. Powers has written a novel that includes all the ferocity, complexity, and racial violence of the American South" --- Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust
Spanning over one hundred years, from the antebellum era to the 1980's, A Shout in the Ruins examines the fates of the inhabitants of Beauvais Plantation outside of Richmond, Virginia. When war arrives, the master of Beauvais, Anthony Levallios, foresees that dominion in a new America will be measured not in acres of tobacco under cultivation by his slaves, but in industry and capital. A grievously wounded Confederate veteran loses his grip on a world he no longer understands, and his daughter finds herself married to Levallois, an arrangement that feels little better than imprisonment. And two people enslaved at Beauvais plantation, Nurse and Rawls, overcome impossible odds to be together, only to find that the promise of coming freedom may not be something they will live to see.

Seamlessly interwoven is the story of George Seldom, a man orphaned by the storm of the Civil War, looking back from the 1950s on the void where his childhood ought to have been. Watching the government destroy his neighborhood to build a stretch of interstate highway through Richmond, he travels south in an attempt to recover his true origins. With the help of a young woman named Lottie, he goes in search of the place he once called home, all the while reckoning with the more than 90 years he lived as witness to so much that changed during the 20th century, and so much that didn't. As we then watch Lottie grapple with life's disappointments and joys in the 1980's, now in her own middle-age, the questions remain: How do we live in a world built on the suffering of others? And can love exist in a place where for 400 years violence has been the strongest form of intimacy?

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 in the forefront of American letters and demands that we reckon with the moral weight of our troubling history.

About the Author

Kevin Powers is the author of The Yellow Birds, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Guardian First Book Award, and was a National Book Award Finalist, as well as Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting, a collection of poetry. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, and holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a Michener Fellow in Poetry. He served in the US Army in 2004 and 2005 in Iraq, where he was deployed as a machine gunner in Mosul and Tal Afar.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316556477
ISBN-10: 0316556475
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Pages: 272
Language: English