Monica Byrne melds the influences of Margaret Atwood and Erin Morgenstern
Byrne's incredible debut is a brilliant re-imagining of the hero’s journey, a fascinating exploration of our need to come to terms with our histories, and a poignant look at our ability to understand and convey emotional truth.
“So sharp, so focused, and so human. Beautifully drawn people in a future that feels so close you can touch it, blended with the lush language and concerns of myth. It builds a bridge from past to future, from East to West. Glorious stuff.” —Neil Gaiman
Advance Praise for The Girl in the Road
“Spectacular and intriguing. . . . Enthralling on many levels. . . . The incorporation of evolving views of gender . . . propel this novel into the stratosphere of artistic brilliance.”—Library Journal (starred)
“Stunning… More than a few surprises await Meena and Mariama and the reader as story lines converge in a surprising, gratifying climax.” —Booklist
“The most inventive tale to come along in years. . . . The writing is often brilliant, as Byrne paints wholly believable pictures of worlds and cultures most Westerners will never know. . . . Engrossing and enjoyable.” —Kirkus
“Byrne is a science writer and graduate of MIT, but her insight into our near future is as much informed by her extensive travels as her grasp of science. . . . A book you will certainly be hearing a lot about in 2014.” —Guardian (UK)
“Monica Byrne’s vision of India and Africa as an ever-changing maelstrom of language and culture, technology and sexuality is utterly captivating. As Meena and Mariama chase each other’s echoes, Byrne strips away their preconceptions (and ours as well) through that most dangerous of human impulses: our need to understand the past, and to decide our own future. An electrifying debut.” —Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni
“The Girl in the Road is a brilliant novel, vivid, sparky, fearless, intense with a kind of savage joy. These journeys—Meena’s across the Arabian Sea and Mariama’s across Africa—are utterly unforgettable.” —Kim Stanley Robinson, author of 2312 and Red Mars
“Monica Byrne has written the road trip novel you didn’t know you were waiting for. A genuine and extraordinary journey. Take it.” —John Scalzi, author of Redshirts
“The world begins anew, starting now,” opens Monica Byrne’s breathtaking debut, The Girl in the Road (Crown Publishers; May 20, 2014). Meena, a young woman living in a futuristic India, prepares to flee India and a trauma she can’t quite articulate, to return to Ethiopia, the place of her birth. Rising from bed with five snake bites on her chest, she isn’t sure who means her harm, only that India is not safe for her.
In 2013, Byrne’s provocative play What Every Girl Should Know was one of the most anticipated shows to be presented at the New York International Fringe Festival, earning a tremendous four star review in Time Out New York (which also named the play a Critics’ Pick) and landing Byrne, who is based in Durham, North Carolina, on the cover of Indy Week in September. This year, Byrne turns her talent to fiction, with a debut sure to appeal to fans of Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell and to establish her as an important new literary voice.
Meena has long heard of the Trail, a mysterious energy-harvesting bridge that spans the Arabian Sea to harness the power of the ocean. But though she knows to walk the Trail is both illegal and dangerous (no traveler has ever returned, and only rumors prevail), she feels drawn to the Trail as though it were her only salvation. She gathers the forbidden supplies required for her journey—a pozit GPS, a scroll reader, and a sealable waterproof pod—and covertly begins her long voyage west at midnight.
Mariama, a girl from West Africa, is on a quest of her own. Forced to flee, she joins up with a caravan of strangers heading across the Sahara toward Ethiopia, where she is told revolution is brewing, and life will be better. As one heads east and the other west, Meena’s and Mariama’s fates intertwine in ways that are profoundly moving and shocking to the core.
Having traveled to Ethiopia, India, and the South Pacific to research her novel, Byrne at once writes with a deep understanding of and reverence for her setting, and yet immerses her readers in a vivid and unique vision of the future. Powerfully informed by her own background in science (prior to her work as a writer and playwright, Byrne worked at NASA and had planned to apply to the astronaut corps), The Girl in the Road is a brilliant re-imagining of the hero’s journey, a fascinating exploration of our need to come to terms with our histories, and a poignant look at our ability to understand and convey emotional truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MONICA BYRNE studied at Wellesley College and MIT. She is a writer and playwright, and lives in Durham, North Carolina.