The Rending and the Nest
A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one's own story.When 95 percent of the earth's population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can't afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost. Four years after the Rending, Mira's best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object--and other women of Zion follow suit--the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn't return, Mira must decide how much she's willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy. Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others--and within ourselves?
A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one's own story.
[An] unsettling, postapocalyptic page-turner . . . Schwehn has created an intriguing and bizarre world where there are no easy answers . . . Readers will race to find out just what is happening and what it all means . . . The entertainment value is high, and those looking for a new dystopian world will be pleased. * Booklist * This absorbing debut novel . . . offers a world that is intensely familiar yet strange . . . Schwehn's narrator establishes her place among post-apocalyptic heroines through her willingness to remake the world from what she has left and her unlikely arrival at hope. * Kirkus Reviews * Part post-apocalyptic novel and part coming-of-age tale, The Rending and the Nest tells the story of ordinary people struggling to understand extraordinary change. It's poignant and mournful, sexy and wry. Kaethe Schwehn is a remarkable talent with a vast and wild imagination. -- Edan Lepucki, New York Times bestselling author of CALIFORNIA and WOMAN NO. 17 It is impossible to read Kaethe Schwehn's extraordinary, uncanny novel without placing yourself in the center of its circumstances. Because sometimes the world really does wobble on its axis and in an instant all that we know or have is gone. The only honest comfort we can claim as our own is the stories we call forth from the ruins. -- Jill Alexander Essbaum, New York Times bestselling author of HAUSFRAU An accomplished and mesmerizing debut packed with humor and horror and grace. Kaethe Schwehn offers up a magical, unsettling vision of the future, and in doing so joins the company of such literary dazzlers as George Saunders and Margaret Atwood. -- Benjamin Percy, author of RED MOON and THE DARK NET One of the most exciting debut novels I've ever read. It beautifully illustrates the fragility of parenthood, womanhood, and our very humanity. Surreal and precise, sharp and moving, this novel joins the ranks of other genius post-apocalyptic works like Oryx and Crake and Station Eleven. Read it and marvel. -- Sharma Shields, author of THE SASQUATCH HUNTER'S ALMANAC A rich and passionate novel of page-turning intensity, an unflinching gaze into our deepest flaws, offering a way forward in the simplest of terms: love, community, humility and trust. -- Michelle Hoover, author of THE QUICKENING and BOTTOMLAND A necessary and luminous story about coming to terms with a ruined world. An unforgettable novel, dazzling despite its darkness. Schwehn is a brave and brilliant writer. -- Rene Steinke, author of FRIENDSWOOD and HOLY SKIRTS Schwehn's Tailings, is, like all of my favorite contemporary nonfiction, uncategorizable--part memoir, part spiritual reflection, part reportage. Brilliant in all of its guises, Tailings only makes me want to read more by Kaethe Schwehn. She writes with fierce intelligence and luminous clarity on all of her subjects: loss, grace, this very particular village, and the hard work of renewal. Tailings is a beautiful and original book by a remarkable writer. -- Rene Steinke, author of FRIENDSWOOD, on TAILINGS Kaethe Schwehn's poignant memoir explores longing, both spiritual and physical, community and faith, in prose that is calm, lovely, and filled with clear-eyed honesty and grace. Tailings is simply an exquisite book. -- Dinty W. Moore, author of THE MINDFUL WRITER, on TAILINGS This is a book hard to lay aside. Schwehn's prose is liquid and intelligent. It catches your interest immediately and swings you from paragraph to paragraph and chapter to chapter. Her observations never stand still but sweep you forward into her story/memoir. She is a genuine artist. -- Walter Wangerin Jr., author of RAGMAN, on TAILINGS
Kaethe Schwehn's first book, Tailings: A Memoir, won the 2015 Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, and her chapbook of poems, Tanka & Me, was selected for the Mineral Point Chapbook Series. In addition to holding M.F.A.s from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Montana, Kaethe has been the recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize, a Minnesota Arts Board grant, and a Loft Mentor Series award. She teaches at St. Olaf College and lives in Northfield, Minnesota.