By Season Butler
In Cygnet, Season Butler gives us the coming-of-age story we haven't heard before, about a young girl resisting the savagery of adulthood as a dying community rejects the promise of youth.
ELLE ONES TO WATCH 2019
'Terribly moving. A clear-sighted, poignant rumination on loneliness, love, the melancholy of age and of youth' China Mieville
'An imaginative, atmospheric and original novel that lingers in the memory long after reading' Bernadine Evaristo
'A sad, funny, highly original novel' Blake Morrison
'Wholeheartedly enjoy(able)' Lauren Wilkinson, The Millions
'Season Butler is an extraordinary writer. Like Colson Whitehead, her work is fearless in its inventiveness' Julia Bell
It's too hot for most of the clothes I packed to come here, when I thought this would only be for a week or two. My mother kissed me with those purple-brown lips of hers and said, we'll be back, hold tight.
The Kid doesn't know where her parents are. They left with a promise to come back months ago, and now their seventeen-year-old daughter is stranded on Swan Island.
Swan isn't just any island; it is home to an eccentric old age separatist community who have shunned life on the mainland for a haven which is rapidly sinking into the ocean. The Kid's arrival threatens to burst the idyllic bubble that the elderly residents have so carefully constructed - an unwelcome reminder of the life they left behind, and one they want rid of.
Cygnet is the story of a young woman battling against the thrashing waves of loneliness and depression, and how she learns to find hope, laughter and her own voice in a world that's crumbling around her.
Season Butler is a writer, artist and dramaturg born in Washington, DC. Through her work, she explores her interest in identity and otherness, the opportunities and traps of hindsight and hope, and what it means to look forward to an increasingly wily future. An early draft of Cygnet was shortlisted for the SI Leeds Prize for unpublished fiction by Black and Asian Women. She lives and works between London and Berlin.
- Other details
- Publication date:
04 Apr 2019
- Page count:
Coming-of-age fiction is a well-established genre but I doubt there's ever been a novel in which the narrator turns 18 on an island exclusively occupied by oldsters. And not since Holden Caulfield have I been so captivated by a first-person voice as the one Season Butler creates in Cygnet: 'kiddo' or 'small-fry' as the Wrinklies call her is super-bright but also naive, tough-minded but also vulnerable, self-reliant but also adrift. How long will she remain on the island? How long will the island itself remain, increasingly eroded by the ocean as it is? Will her parents arrive in time to celebrate her birthday? We don't know, but this sad, funny, highly original novel keeps us turning the pages to find out — Blake Morrison, Author of Things my Mother Never Told Me
Season Butler is an extraordinary writer. In this wonderful novel the narrative voice is rhythmic and compelling, telling a coming of age story which resonates with our times. Like Colson Whitehead, her work is fearless in its inventiveness. I've always thought Season was the real deal, this book proves that she has arrived — Julia Bell, Author, The Dark Light
Terribly moving. A clear-sighted, poignant rumination on loneliness, love, the melancholy of age and of youth - and, in its quiet way, the end of the world — China Miéville
Season Butler has written an imaginative, atmospheric and original novel that lingers in the memory long after reading . . . A bright new voice in literature — Bernadine Evaristo