“James Baldwin meets Aldous Huxley” in this “highly original” speculative fable (Chicago Tribune).
Nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Fiction
In a post-human world, creatures called oafs keep humanlike “mans” as beloved pets. One day, a poor boy oaf brings home a man, whom he hides under his bed in the hopes his parents won’t find out . . .
“Much like Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel Planet of the Apes, this novel is a sardonic parable on the nature and destiny of the species. A nimble fable whose bold narrative experiment is elevated by its near-biblical language and affectionate embrace of our inherent flaws.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An imaginative and honest epic, weaving together biblical stories, fantasy, poetry, and fairy tales with a touch of realism. . . . Allen asks us to question the assumptions, -isms, and contradictions of the modern world. . . . Recalling the humanitarian concerns of Octavia Butler’s Fledgling and the poetry of Ovid’s Metamorphosis [sic], this book will appeal to readers of literary fiction and fantasy.” —Library Journal
“Imaginative, versatile, and daring, Allen raids the realms of myth and fairy tales in this topsy-turvy speculative fable. . . . With canny improvisations on ‘Jack and the Beanstalk,’ the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh,’ and Alice in Wonderland, Allen sharpens our perceptions of class divides, racism, enslavement, and abrupt and devastating climate change to create a delectably adventurous, wily, funny, and wise cautionary parable.” —Booklist
“It is one thing to devise a fable dealing so adroitly with such concepts as racism, war, religion, and the very nature of civilization itself, but Preston’s true triumph is the infusion of each page and every astonishing episode with palpable emotional resonance.” —Les Standiford, New York Times–bestselling author of Last Train to Paradise
A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Fiction Pick
In a future where primitive "mans" are considered pets or food by the dominant, giant humanoid "oafs," one female man and her daughter become the cherished possessions, then friends, of a young oaf who learns to see them as more than just creatures. That friendship sets the daughter on a course to slavery, war, and traveling to a place where humans are not endangered and a time when individuals might find salvation, even if a world is lost. Allen's concise book's power lies within its understated irony, never more heavy-handed than a preacher's admonition that "a world without mans is a world without us all." The plain narrative and relationship between boy and female man, rounded out with humor and occasional (sometimes literal) bite, promises to be a sleeper favorite among speculative audiences.