Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

History of Wolves

A Novel

by Emily Fridlund

A BEA Buzz Book Selection and one of the most daring literary debuts of the season, a profound and propulsive novel from an urgent new voice in American fiction.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 304
  • Publication Date November 07, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2738-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 288
  • Publication Date January 03, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2587-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $25.00

About The Book

One of the most daring literary debuts of the season, History of Wolves is a profound and propulsive novel from an urgent, new voice in American fiction.

Teenage Linda lives with her parents in the austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outsider at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is faced with child pornography charges, his arrest deeply affects Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.

And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. But with this new sense of belonging come expectations and secrets she doesn’t understand. Over the course of a summer, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do–and fail to do—for the people they love.

Winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie award for its first chapter, and A BEA Buzz Book and An ABA Indies Introduce Selection, Emily Fridlund’s agonizing and gorgeously written History of Wolves introduces a new writer of enormous range and talent.

Tags Literary


“An artful story of sexual awakening and identity formation . . . a novel of ideas that reads like smart pulp, a page-turner of craft and calibration.” —New York Times Book Review

“Electrifying . . . History of Wolves isn’t a typical thriller any more than it’s a typical coming-of-age novel . . . Fridlund does a remarkable job transcending genres without sacrificing the suspense that builds steadily in the book . . . [it] is as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it’s set, and with her first book, Fridlund has already proven herself to be a singular talent.” —NPR

“A compelling portrait of a troubled adolescent trying to find her way in a new and frightening world.” —People magazine, one of Five Best New Books

“The chilly power of History of Wolves packs a wallop that’s hard to shake off . . . an elegant, troubling debut, both immersed in the natural world but equally concerned with issues of power, family, faith and the gap between understanding something and being able to act on the knowledge.” —Los Angeles Times

“Imagine one of those twisty ‘Girl’-titled mysteries in the hands of a great stylist. Fridlund’s debut is something like that, but better . . . an indelible story of fascination and dread.” —New York magazine

“Starkly affecting . . . one of the year’s most lauded debuts.” —Entertainment Weekly

“This captivating debut from a prodigious new talent injects taut suspense into a teenage girl’s awakenings as she confronts a web of mysteries in the chilly woods of Minnesota. A lavishly written novel with more than a glimmer of dread.” —O Magazine, one of 10 Titles to Pick Up Now

“My, what big fictional teeth Emily Fridlund has.” —Vanity Fair

“[An] exquisitely observed, quietly affecting debut novel . . . an absorbing contemplation of guilt and regret, agency and its abdication, and what it means to survive the wilderness.” —Boston Globe

“Profound and disturbing . . . a tragedy of Shakespearean scope.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Lyrically written . . . [it] keeps surprising to the end.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Hypnotic . . . brilliantly crafted . . . atmospheric and chilling.” —Missourian

“Impressive . . . Fridlund has superb control of her first-person narrator and of the ‘Show, don’t tell’ rule, so the reader must listen carefully, looking for clues.” —Sydney Morning Herald

“Intricate, beautifully written . . . The book smolders with moral tension, enriched by Fridlund’s subtle eloquence.” —National Book Review, one of Five Hot Books

History of Wolves is so observant, so compassionate, so fresh that it can hold its own among the best of more established writers.” —Shelf Awareness

“Exactly the kind of book you want to curl up with in the winter. It’s propulsive, vividly written, laced with a razor’s chill and filled with imagery that’s impossible to forget. There is a constant sense of foreboding, of wondering when the truth will crash through the Minnesota ice . . . Fridlund masterfully ratchets up the tension, exploding this story of secrets and girlhood with crisp, cutting prose that will leave you shocked and in awe. A remarkable novel, that just so happens to be a debut, by a fiercely talented writer.” —Amazon Book Review

“With her debut novel History of Wolves, Fridlund might well find herself literary fiction’s newest golden girl . . . Its otherworldly winter escapism is just right for midseason stir crazy, and a dose of crime drama in the book’s second half grounds enough for wider readability, with Fridlund’s observation on childhood, religion and family reaching a climax in the final chapters . . . Supple fiction formed in able hands, History of Wolves delivers Emily Fridlund to the doorstep of literature’s beau monde.” —National Post

“Fridlund’s writing is fluid and at times arresting . . . This is a smart, tense and very sad novel, lovely to read but also heartwrenching.” —Bookreporter

“Fierce. Mesmerizing. Dazzling . . . [A] magnificent debut novel.” —Bustle

“Beautifully written and intense.” —Virginia Pilot

History of Wolves is so observant, so compassionate, so fresh that it can hold its own among the best of more established writers.” —Shelf Awareness

“This book walks a fine line between fiction and thriller—readers are sure to feel a pit deepening in their stomachs as they turn its pages. Rural Minnesota winters will take on a profound darkness in this gripping tale.” —Bookish

“[A] stellar debut . . . A sense of foreboding subtly permeates the story . . . [the] wordsmithing is fantastic, rife with vivid turns of phrase. Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader.” —Publishers Weekly (starred boxed review)

“An atmospheric, near-gothic coming-of-age novel turns on the dance between predator and prey . . . Fridlund is an assured writer . . . The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing–a literary tour de force.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The writing is beautiful . . . a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A fine writer.” —Library Journal

“‘Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt down, exhausted, and stayed.’ So much is accomplished here, not least a kind of trust that this writer will make everything count, including the kind of data that is usually left for dead in a story. What is literary authority, after all, but the ability to regularly, without apparent effort, make the most of every sentence, build feeling in every line and do it in such a way that is tough, tight, funny, and often brilliantly disruptive?” —Ben Marcus

“So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides! I’m so excited for readers to encounter the talent and roiling intelligence of Emily Fridlund.” —Aimee Bender

“As exquisite a first novel as I’ve ever encountered. Poetic, complex, and utterly, heartbreakingly beautiful.” —T. C. Boyle

“So compelling, so filled with tension that I could not stop reading. A first novel this good gives me such incredible faith in the literary world that this young talent will bring us readers more and more of this exquisite prose and choice of words. She gets this close with sexual tension and then moves away in a way that allows you to let your breath out. And Paul, the innocent in this whole mess, is a victim but are the others as well? I love this so much!” —Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books

“A punch to the heart lies at the center of History of Wolves—a punch readers may not see coming until some critical point when they look up from the page and realize what Fridlund has been doing to them all along: setting them up to knock them down. Hard. In this tremendous debut, she writes with unbelievable craft and depth of feeling about girlhood, sexual awakening, guilt, belief, and above all, the shattering limits of faith. The result is a novel of huge power, one destined to be among the most talked-about of the season.” —Brandon Stout, Changing Hands Bookstore


Man Booker Prize Shortlist
New York Times Editors’ Choice
#1 Indie Next Pick
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
One of USA Today‘s Notable Books
An Amazon Best Book of the Month


It’s not that I never think about Paul. He comes to me occasionally before I’m fully awake, though I almost never remember what he said, or what I did or didn’t do to him. In my mind, the kid just plops down into my lap. Boom. That’s how I know it’s him: there’s no interest in me, no hesitation. We’re sitting in the Forest Center on a late afternoon like any other, and his body moves automatically toward mine–not out of love or respect, but simply because he hasn’t yet learned the etiquette of minding where his body stops and another begins. He’s four, he’s got an owl puzzle to do, don’t talk to him. I don’t. Outside the window, an avalanche of poplar fluff floats by, silent and weightless as air. The sun sets, the puzzle cleaves into an owl and comes apart again, I prod Paul to standing. Time to go. It’s time. But in the second before we rise, before he whines out his protest and asks to stay a little longer, he leans back against my chest, yawning.

And my throat cinches closed. Because it’s strange, you know? It’s marvelous, and sad too, how good it can feel to have your body taken for granted.