Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The End We Start From

by Megan Hunter


“Engrossing, compelling.”—Naomi Alderman, author of The Power

“I was moved, terrified, uplifted – sometimes all three at once.”—Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 160
  • Publication Date September 18, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2859-1
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 144
  • Publication Date November 07, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2689-4
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.25"
  • US List Price $22.00

Publishing in the US to a wave of critical acclaim and nominations for two major literary prizes, Megan Hunter’s internationally bestselling, extraordinarily poetic debut novel imagines new motherhood in the midst of an all-too-possible climate change catastrophe. A startlingly beautiful story of a family’s survival, The End We Start From is a searing original, a modern-day parable of rebirth and renewal, of maternal bonds, and the instinct to survive and thrive in the absence of all that’s familiar.

As London is submerged below floodwaters, a woman gives birth to her first child, Z. Days later, she and her baby are forced to leave their home in search of safety. They head north through a newly dangerous country seeking refuge from place to place. Their journey traces fear and wonder as the baby grows, thriving and content against all the odds.

The End We Start From is an indelible and elemental first book—a lyrical vision of the strangeness and beauty of new motherhood, and a tale of endurance in the face of ungovernable change.


Finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize
Winner of the Editor’s Choice Prize for Fiction
Longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize

A #1 Indie Next Selection

The End We Start From is a stunning tale of motherhood. Megan has crafted a striking and frighteningly real story of a family fighting for survival that will make everyone stop and think about what kind of planet we are leaving behind for our children.”—Benedict Cumberbatch

“A beautifully spare, haunting meditation on the persistence of life after catastrophe. I loved it.”—Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

“In her spare, stylish debut novel, The End We Start From, Megan Hunter depicts new motherhood against a climate-change cataclysm in which city-swallowing floods tip England into chaos . . . But the real strength of this wonderfully earthy novel is in its sharpened lens on motherhood’s apocalyptic-feeling joys and terrors, and how they can form an all-encompassing world.”—Vogue

“In elegiac lines, Hunter tells a love story through the eyes of a new mother, who witnesses the death of an old life and the start of a new one…a perfect portrait of rebirth the final testament that time, and life, do go on, despite our best efforts.”—Elle 

“You can’t escape the rise of dystopia in fiction . . . But Megan Hunter’s slim, poetic leap into the chaotic near-future feels the most plausible and, possibly for that reason, the most devastating.”—NPR Best Fiction of 2017

“Poetic and succinct, Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From is an etiological exercise for a climate-changed world—a post-apocalyptic novel in which current human mistakes are followed forward to dismaying ends . . . Though the story is marked by incredible loss, the hope beyond the devastation is worth holding on for. Hunter’s is an uncommon disaster tale—lovely, intimate, and foreboding.”—Forward Reviews

“The postapocalyptic literary novel is currently in vogue almost to the point of redundancy, but Hunter’s slim yet sharp debut offers a level of precision and interiority rarely seen in the genre . .  . Told in a voice that is by turns meditative, desperate, and hopeful, this novel showcases Hunter’s considerable talents and range.”—Publishers Weekly

The End We Start From is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, in that it shares the same narrative detachment, and the same precise poetry. It is of course told from the perspective of a mother, rather than a father, and is set in a world that is only beginning to fall into chaos . . . Megan Hunter’s remarkable debut novel feels like the other half of the story.”—Financial Times

“A short, haunting story about the end of days, sparse, beautiful and heroic.”—Observer

“Startlingly poetic . . . Hunter writes with delicacy and precision; her imagery is pearlescent in places. It’s a sliver of a novel, but it shimmers.”—Guardian

“Ambitious, original and disturbing.”—Daily Mail

“The End We Start From by Megan Hunter is a short, concentrated book – a shot of distilled story, like the pulp of a tale boiled to a thick spiced paste…With passages from mythology interspersed with its imagined future, the book is engrossing, compelling and finally hopeful.”—Naomi Alderman’s Book of the Year (Summer books 2017 in the Financial Times)

“Motherhood is an immersive experience and Hunter is brilliant on the urgency of it . . . Hunter traces—with expert precision and such lyricism—who we are when life is minimized. How we respond under pressure, when time is measured in terms of where the next meal will come from . . . It is a highly interior story, in the hands of a narrator of great skill. As an exploration of motherhood, it’s a visceral, poetic confession.”Irish Times

“Strange and haunting . . . The beating heart of this tender and tremendous story is without doubt Hunter’s portrait of early motherhood, an all-encompassing world of its own.”—Independent (UK)

“A very exciting debut from a hugely talented young writer . . . [Hunter’s] beautiful prose is spare, yet able to conjure every emotion in the reader from terror to wonder. A stunning achievement.”The Bookseller (Editor’s Choice)

“Extraordinary. Megan Hunter’s prose is exquisite, her depiction of a world descending into chaos is frighteningly real, and yet, it is her portrayal of motherhood – that tender-terrifying experience of bringing a child into a world – that has remained with me. The End We Start From is an incredible, original exploration of all that beauty, boredom and bewilderment. I read it in one sitting, and was deeply moved.”—Hannah Kent, author of Burial Rites

“An exceptional, alarming and beautiful book, which still echoes months after I finished reading it. Megan Hunter is a writer of unnerving power.”—Evie Wyld, author of All the Birds, Singing

The End We Start From is strange and powerful, and very apt for these uncertain times. I was moved, terrified, uplifted—sometimes all three at once. It takes skill to manage that, and Hunter has a poet’s understanding of how to make each word count.”—Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl With a Pearl Earring

The End We Start From is relentlessly, achingly personal. Hunter reminds us that disasters are rarely experienced in panorama. Instead, we live bone-deep inside our narrator. This book is fierce, sorrowful, and spiked with moments of bright joy.”—Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You

“I can’t remember ever having read a novel quite as sparing or as daring as Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From, or one that delivers so mighty an impact from such delicate materials. It is a moving, wistful and compelling debut.”—Jim Crace, author of Harvest

“A beautiful, timely book about survival (both domestic and global) shot through with hope and humanity.”—Lisa Owens, author of Not Working

“Beautiful . . . Water isn’t the thing here, love is. And how we survive as the level of love rises.”—Cynan Jones, author of The Dig

“I’ll be recommending this book for years to come. Utterly brilliant, hugely important. Here’s the thing: it’s perfect.”—Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall

“I held my breath reading this beautiful and timely novel. With precise yet lyrical language Megan Hunter gets to the centre of who we are, where we are, and why it matters. The End We Start From is a work of art.”—Christie Watson, author of Tiny Sunbirds Far Away


I am thirty-two weeks pregnant when they announce it: the water is rising faster than they thought. It is creeping faster. A calculation error. A badly plotted movie, sensors out at sea.

We hide under the duvet with a torch like children. I ask R if he still would have done it. If he had known. He doesn’t answer.

He shines the torch up into the duvet and makes his fingers into ducks. I decide to take that as a yes.

* * *

I am a geriatric primigravida, but I don’t look it.

We have leather sofas. R spills takeaway on them and grins: wipe clean.

I am thirty-eight weeks when they tell us we will have to move. That we are within the Gulp Zone.

I say whoever thought of that name should be boiled in noodles. R spends all night on the same property website. It is loading very slowly.

* * *

Man came from a germ. From this germ we fashioned him, from clot to bones to thick flesh. We stood him up on one end, a new creation.

* * *

J phones an ambulance and S looks out of the window palely.

I gaze at the wooden floor. I have never noticed how beautiful it is before.

It is perfectly dusk-coloured, and the whorls are rising like dark little planets through its glow.

Between the waves of disembowelling wrench the world is shining. I feel like Aldous Huxley on mescaline. I am drenched in is-ness.