Louisiana, 2042. Spurred by the effects of climate change, states have closed graveyards and banned burials, making cremation mandatory and the ashes of loved ones state-owned unless otherwise claimed. In the small town of St. Genevieve, Alma lives alone and struggles to grieve in the wake of her young mother Naomi’s death, during which Alma failed to honor Naomi’s final wishes. Now, Alma decides to fight to reclaim Naomi’s ashes, a journey of unburial that will bring into her life a mysterious and fiercely loyal stranger, Bordelon, who appears in St. Genevieve after a storm, as well as a group of strong, rebellious local women who, together, teach Alma anew the meaning of family and strength.
With poignance, poeticism, and deep insight in Here Lies, Olivia Clare Friedman gives us a stunning portrait of motherhood, friendship, and humanity in an alternate American South torn asunder by global warming. This is a stunning first novel from a unique and inventive writer.
Praise for Here Lies:
“Illuminating and startling.”—Publishers Weekly
“Olivia Clare Friedman’s precision, earthy humor and clear-eyed tenderness for outsiders and oddballs combine in this sparkling debut, as an isolated young woman finds unexpected connection in her search to bury her mother, an act forbidden by law in an alt-future Louisiana.”—Janet Fitch
“Here Lies is a work of astonishing, exacting beauty that captures both the pinhole longing of personal grief and the expansive pleasure of closely observed, deeply felt moments between women. Friedman writes the kind of prose you want to till and turn over with your hands—sentences so lush and exquisite they deserve to be held up and cherished in sunlight.”—Kimberly King Parsons
“Here Lies is a novel of both big ideas and intimate moments. At the same time speculative and familiar, the book sews patterns of longing and loss into a shape that anyone who has ever needed and found a non-traditional family will recognize and cherish. Like most great books to come out of the South, the relentless skill and grace of the author makes a simple story of Louisiana transcend far beyond its borders. Make no mistake: Olivia Clare Friedman is one of the most singular voices in American literature and this book, like all of her work, belongs in your hands.”—M.O. Walsh, New York Times Bestselling author of My Sunshine Away and The Big Door Prize
“Here Lies compounds past, present, and future, the universal threat of the climate crisis with the more intimate storms of loneliness and loss. Here is a subtle, surprising portrait of female friendship, of possibility in impossible times. Clare Friedman, with a poet’s ear, offers readers not just dazzling language, but also a keen sense of empathy and a rich understanding of the human heart.”—Emily Nemens, author of The Cactus League
Praise for Disasters In The First World:
“Insightful . . . so well crafted . . . makes me want to pick up whatever Clare publishes next.”―New York Times Book Review
“Lyrical and elegiac . . . Her stories unfold in wonderfully astonishing turns . . . Tender yet occasionally biting.”―Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“Olivia Clare is pure literary dynamite.”—Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander
“Clare’s fiction has a spryness and a wryness one could describe as Barthelme-esque, without so much of DB’s arch, sometimes off-putting minimalism. Clare’s fiction has closely observed sympathy that could be described as Munro-esque, with a tick-tock contemporaneity that evokes early ‘80s Beatty. What we’re getting at is that there’re a lot of ins and outs to this case.”―Houston Post
“Clare’s debut short story collection explores the lives of varied characters―lovers, family, and tenants; the links they forge with others; and the odd, confounding worlds they inhabit . . . In these thoughtful tales, Clare, winner of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and an O. Henry Prize, presents characters who, instead of begging for sympathy, seem to desire clarity.”—Booklist
“Intimate and incisive . . . Clare’s characters are believable in their frailty and vulnerability, and the clarity and strength of her voice gives these stories a lingering power.”—Publishers Weekly