State of Wonder
Indie Next ListJune 2011
When Marina Singh receives a note that her office mate, Anders Eckman, has died in the Amazon while investigating scientific work on female fertility, she is persuaded to follow him into the jungle in search of the doctor with whom he worked - who has also exerted a crucial influence on Marina's life - and to retrieve Anders' personal effects. This spellbinding, richly atmospheric novel raises ethical questions about scientific research and discovery, loyalty, honesty, and love. Not to be missed! -- Tova Beiser, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, RI
Ann Patchett has dazzled readers with her award-winning books, including The Magician's Assistant and the New York Times bestselling Bel Canto. Now she raises the bar with State of Wonder, a provocative and ambitious novel set deep in the Amazon jungle.
Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug, the development of which has already cost the company a fortune. Nothing about Marina's assignment is easy: not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner Anders Eckman, died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's future, and her own past.
Once found, Dr. Swenson, now in her seventies, is as ruthless and uncompromising as she ever was back in the days of Grand Rounds at Johns Hopkins. With a combination of science and subterfuge, she dominates her research team and the natives she is studying with the force of an imperial ruler. But while she is as threatening as anything the jungle has to offer, the greatest sacrifices to be made are the ones Dr. Swenson asks of herself, and will ultimately ask of Marina, who finds she may still be unable to live up to her teacher's expectations.
In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, and a neighboring tribe of cannibals, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss. It is a tale that leads the reader into the very heart of darkness, and then shows us what lies on the other side.
About the Author
Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, including Bel Canto (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize), and the nonfiction bestsellers What now? and Truth & Beauty. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is co-owner of Parnassus Books.
Praise for State of Wonder…
“An engaging, consummately told tale.”
-New York Times
“Emotionally lucid. . . . Patchett is at her lyrical best when she catalogues the jungle.”
-The New Yorker
“This is surely the smartest, most exciting novel of the summer.”
“The Amazon setting is something Patchett does rather marvelously. . . . The book is serious, but also so pleasurable that you hope it won’t end.”
“Outlandishly entertaining . . . [with] a brilliantly constructed plot.”
“Packs a textbook’s worth of ethical conundrums into a smart and tidily delivered story. . . . Ms. Patchett presents an alluring interplay between civilization and wilderness, between aid and exploitation.”
-Wall Street Journal
“The large canvas of sweeping moral issues, both personal and global, comes to life through careful attention to details, however seemingly mundane—from ill-fitting shoes and mosquito bites to a woman tenderly braiding another woman’s hair.”
-O, the Oprah Magazine
“A spellbinder from bestselling author Patchett. . . . Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett’s breakthrough Bel Canto.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An expansive page-turner . . . Patchett’s fluid prose dissolves in the suspense of this out-there adventure . . . that readers will hate to see end.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A superbly rendered novel. . . . Patchett’s portrayal is as wonderful as it is frightening and foreign. Patchett exhibits an extraordinary ability to bring the horrors and the wonders of the Amazon jungle to life, and her singular characters are wonderfully drawn. . . . Powerful and captivating.”
-Library Journal (starred review)
“In fluid and remarkably atmospheric prose, Patchett captures not only the sights and sounds of the chaotic jungle environment but also the struggles and sacrifice of dedicated scientists.”
“A thrilling new novel. . . . The world imagined in this novel is unusually vivid. . . . Reading State of Wonder is a sensory experience, and even after it’s over you’ll keep hearing the sounds of insects, and your own head will still be hot.”
“Patchett makes the jungle jump off the page…This is Patchett’s best effort since The Patron Saint of Liars and, yes, that includes Bel Canto”
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