Now a television mini-series airing on National Geographic May 2020!
A Washington Post Best Book of the Year & a New York Times Notable Book
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Shipping News and “Brokeback Mountain,” comes the New York Times bestselling epic about the demise of the world’s forests: “Barkskins is grand entertainment in the tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy…the crowning achievement of Annie Proulx’s distinguished career, but also perhaps the greatest environmental novel ever written” (San Francisco Chronicle).
In the late seventeenth century two young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters—barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a native woman and their descendants live trapped between two cultures. But Duquet runs away, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Annie Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years—their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand—the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.
“A stunning, bracing, full-tilt ride through three hundred years of US and Canadian history…with the type of full-immersion plot that keeps you curled in your chair, reluctant to stop reading” (Elle), Barkskins showcases Proulx’s inimitable genius of creating characters who are so vivid that we follow them with fierce attention. “This is Proulx at the height of her powers as an irreplaceable American voice” (Entertainment Weekly, Grade A), and Barkskins “is an awesome monument of a book” (The Washington Post)—“the masterpiece she was meant to write” (The Boston Globe). As Anthony Doerr says, “This magnificent novel possesses the dark humor of The Shipping News and the social awareness of ‘Brokeback Mountain.’”
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With Barkskins, bestselling author Annie Proulx zooms in on tiny details, while simultaneously examining history on a grand scale. The result is a complex and completely engrossing novel. The epic follows two French immigrants and their descendants over the course of three centuries. When René Sel and Charles Duquet arrive in Canada in 1693, it’s a wild, untouched land—full of seemingly inexhaustible resources—which they dedicate their lives to taming. But the men’s actions have consequences that reverberate for centuries, forcing their present-day families to deal with the aftermath. Proulx is in top form, creating characters that are uncannily real.
It's a pleasure to listen to Petkoff's low-key, straightforward reading of Proulx's ambitious novel that spans 300 years and multiple locations. His reading is well paced and his diction clean and clear. But he faces the near-impossible task of rendering the foreign sentence structures and accented English dialogue of a huge variety of international characters in different periods of history. Proulx's characters are French, English, Spanish, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, Chinese, American, Canadian, and Native American. The pidgin English of Native American men, women, and children is especially distracting for the listener when read aloud, for it turns the listener's focus from the story to the accents. A Scribner hardcover.
Very good until the last chapter
Very good. Interesting. But the last chapter was odd and preachy.
I could hardly wait to read this book. I usually really like her books. It really bogged in places. It left me looking for point at which the families would connect, personally, not through business and remain unknown to each other. The topic was so depressing in itself it would have been nice if literally every character in the book wouldn’t have suffered personal tragedy. It was tough to finish.
Too slow in parts so book doesn’t flow properly. Good in some parts very interesting then it becomes sluggish.