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A richly textured coming-of-age story about fathers and sons, home and family, recalling classics by Thomas Wolfe and William Styron, by a powerful new voice in fiction
Just before Henry Aster’s birth, his father—outsized literary ambition and pregnant wife in tow—reluctantly returns to the small Appalachian town in which he was raised and installs his young family in an immense house of iron and glass perched high on the side of a mountain. There, Henry grows up under the writing desk of this fiercely brilliant man. But when tragedy tips his father toward a fearsome unraveling, what was once a young son’s reverence is poisoned and Henry flees, not to return until years later when he, too, must go home again.
Mythic in its sweep and mesmeric in its prose, THE BARROWFIELDS is a breathtaking debut about the darker side of devotion, the limits of forgiveness, and the reparative power of shared pasts.
– SIBA Okra Pick
About the Author
PHILLIP LEWIS is a lawyer in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“’The Barrowfields,’ with its almost Victorian title, offers in its own ways the pleasures of older novels, with their coziness and sweep, and their tacit belief that family is destiny. The prose has the beautiful attention to detail that embeds us in place… ‘The Barrowfields’ is a work of abundant talent.” - The New York Times Book Review
“Charming, absorbing, and assured. . . . Lewis evokes his settings beautifully, and his prose is bracingly erudite. This debut has the ability to fully immerse its readers.” —Publishers Weekly
“The Barrowfields is a stunning debut novel rich in character and place, steeped in literature and music, and fraught with family drama. . . . With clear echoes of Poe and Wolfe, The Barrowfields also gives a nod to Richard Russo by reflecting an appreciation for the eccentricities of regional characters.” —Shelf Awareness
“Rich and complex. . . . Lewis is a master of creating a sense of place.” —Kirkus Reviews
“In his evocative debut about disenchantment and identity, Lewis captures the longing of a southerner separated from his home, his family, and his ambition… Like fellow North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe, Lewis tackles the conflicting choice between accepting one’s roots and rejecting the past, and he does so with grace, wit, and an observant eye.” —Booklist
“A novel this good is a rare thing. Elegiac and timeless, THE BARROWFIELDS is an unforgettable evocation of a dark American saga. Reading it is like cracking open the tattered first edition of a classic you somehow missed but just pulled from your father’s bookshelf.” —David Gilbert, National Bestselling author of & Sons
"Majestic and rich with the textures of life, Phillip Lewis’s THE BARROWFIELDS is one of the great discoveries of the year. This is a debut so assured in its sense of place and history that it will leave you in awe of what Lewis has accomplished here: a sorrowful, beautiful ode to the bond of family, the ghosts that haunt us, and the stories that shape us." —Paul Yoon, author of SNOW HUNTERS
"THE BARROWFIELDS knows that the worst hauntings happen not in old houses but in troubled minds. The psychological landscape is craggy in this vivid update on Southern Gothic steeped in gorgeous vernacular and full of characters ready to walk off the page. Lewis goes down to the depths and back up in this powerfully hopeful book, and the reader is helpless in his hands.” —Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of WE ARE NOT OURSELVES
“Beautifully written and deeply moving, THE BARROWFIELDS is a novel that centers on a man conflicted between his love of family and his devotion to literature. Phillip Lewis is a very talented writer, and his debut deserves a wide and appreciative readership.” —Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of SERENA and ABOVE THE WATERFALL
“A beautiful, evocative novel with an amazing sense of place and an understated, dark sensibility. A brilliant debut.”—Jenni Fagan, author of THE SUNLIGHT PILGRIMS and THE PANOPTICON