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Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Orbital

by Samantha Harvey

A singular new novel from Betty Trask Prize–winner Samantha Harvey, Orbital is an eloquent meditation on space and life on our planet through the eyes of six astronauts circling the earth in 24 hours

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 224
  • Publication Date December 05, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6154-3
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.25"
  • US List Price $24.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date December 05, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6155-0
  • US List Price $24.00

A slender novel of epic power, Orbital deftly snapshots one day in the lives of six women and men hurtling through space—not towards the moon or the vast unknown, but around our planet. Selected for one of the last space station missions of its kind before the program is dismantled, these astronauts and cosmonauts—from America, Russia, Italy, Britain, and Japan—have left their lives behind to travel at a speed of over seventeen thousand miles an hour as the earth reels below. We glimpse moments of their earthly lives through brief communications with family, their photos and talismans; we watch them whip up dehydrated meals, float in gravity-free sleep, and exercise in regimented routines to prevent atrophying muscles; we witness them form bonds that will stand between them and utter solitude. Most of all, we are with them as they behold and record their silent blue planet. Their experiences of sixteen sunrises and sunsets and the bright, blinking constellations of the galaxy are at once breathtakingly awesome and surprisingly intimate. So are the marks of civilization far below, encrusted on the planet on which we live.

Profound, contemplative and gorgeous, Orbital is a gift—a moving elegy to our humanity, environment, and planet.

Praise for Orbital:

Finalist for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction
A New York Times and Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Most Anticipated Book of 2023 from Literary Hub
A Most Anticipated Book of Fall from the Guardian and Los Angeles Times 
A Best Book of 2023 from Oprah Daily and The Guardian

“Ravishingly beautiful.”—Joshua Ferris, New York Times

“Samantha Harvey’s meditative novel portraying life aboard a spacecraft contains on almost every page sentences so gorgeous that you want to put down the book in awe . . . A thrilling book, filled with marvel at the beauty of creation made palpable in bravura descriptions . . . The sense of wonder and delight conveyed by Harvey’s elegant prose and philosophical musings makes this a deeply pleasurable book for serious fiction lovers.”—Wendy Smith, Boston Globe

“A fascinating character study of the multinational crew, both as individuals and of their interpersonal dynamics . . . Orbital excels because it combines the mundane with the profound aspects of living and working in space.”—Space Review

“Samantha Harvey, one of the most consistently surprising contemporary British novelists, becomes something like the cosmic artificer of our era with her slim, enormous novel Orbital (Grove), which imaginatively constructs the day-to-day lives of six astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Orbital is the strangest and most magical of projects, not least because it’s barely what most people would call a novel but performs the kind of task that only a novel could dare . . . Harvey, writing like a kind of Melville of the skies, finds that fitting surplus again and again.”—The New Yorker

“Harvey’s lean and meditative fifth novel takes place on a space station circling Earth over a single day, as the mission’s crew of six astronauts from around the world makes a community in the absence of family or gravity. Their rare vantage point affords new perspectives on the planet below, including the lives they left behind.”—New York Times

“Harvey vividly renders the practical and emotional details of life in space, from the cargo cubes that contain trash to the talismans and images each astronaut has brought on board . . . Perhaps the most important aspect of the book is its interpretation of the experience of seeing Earth from outer space . . . If Harvey meant Orbital as a tiny, 200-page chance to consider it all from a different perspective, her clarion call could not have come at a better time.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Harvey manages, in taking readers along to the final frontier, to remind us less of our essential loneliness and more of our mutual dependence . . . With a few tiny strokes of foreshadowing and a few lovely paragraphs of description, Harvey manages to bring readers back down to Earth, astounded that they’ve traveled so far in such a short period of time, having finished their own orbit through the realms of her rich imagination.”—Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times

“Harvey makes an ecstatic voyage with an imagined crew on the International Space Station, and looks back to Earth with a lover’s eye . . . An Anthropocene book resistant to doom.”Guardian

“Beautiful . . . [A] gorgeous meditation.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Coming from five different countries, the space travelers represent a microcosm of humanity. This is a beautifully written, deeply thoughtful meditation on planet Earth and our place in it.”Library Journal, Starred Review

“Luminous and profound, Orbital is hard to put down and even harder to forget.”Booklist, Starred Review

“Harvey takes readers on board a cramped space station with six members of an international mission as they rotate the earth 16 times in 24 hours. Through their eyes, we watch typhoons grow in the Pacific, packs of noodles float in zero gravity, and continents whir by. A meditative novel that reveals our changing planet with a new urgency, and its inhabitants with a new and profound love.”Oprah Daily, A Best Book of 2023

“Samantha Harvey is a beautiful stylist; in Orbital a group of astronauts look down on our fragile Earth. It’s a slim, profound study of intimate human fears set against epic vistas of swirling weather patterns and rolling continents.”Guardian (UK)

“A meditation, zealously lyrical, about the profundity and precarity of our imperiled planet.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Radiant . . . With Orbital, Harvey gives readers a powerful novel that, in less than 200 pages, manages to explore questions of philosophy and religion, faith, existence, meaning-making, art, grief, and gratitude, just to name a few. In showing one day in the lives of just six individuals, she probes deep into the human experience as it teeters between the profound and the mundane—even, or perhaps especially, as experienced from the rarified vantage point of space. Her luscious and lyrical language is as close to poetry as it is to prose . . . Orbital is a gift of language, a meditation on meaning, and a beautiful exploration of perspective.”—Kerry McHugh in Shelf Awareness

“Orbital is not only a timely meditation but an essential one. [Harvey’s] best novel to date.”Irish Times

Orbital, Harvey’s fifth novel, is The Waves in space . . . Over the sixteen orbits tracked by the novel, dazzling descriptions of the planet rhythmically recur . . . Characters’ thoughts mix and flow with the colours and light.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Reading Orbital is a dizzying experience; [Harvey] evokes the texture of daily life in the space station and pans out to sweeping, lyrical descriptions of the natural world, underpinning both with profound questions about our place in the cosmos. It is an extraordinary achievement, containing multitudes.”—Stephanie Merritt, Guardian

“A brief but deeply reflective fictional meditation.”—Center for Fiction

“Extraordinary . . . With its radiant prose and lyrical storytelling, Orbital achieves something rarely found in books, film, or other media. This novel makes you look at the world, and our place in it, in a new way.”—Highbrow Magazine

“Slender, gleaming . . . luminous prose has become something of a trademark for Harvey.”The Spectator

“Powerful . . . The strength of this book lies in Harvey’s stunning and rhythmic descriptions of this constantly unraveling world . . . She moves unnervingly between the intimate and the epic, while subtly unpicking the essential threads that bind them . . . The beauty of the prose engages the reader fully and, overall, this is an uplifting book. Like the astronauts, the reader is left with no firm foothold. We nevertheless come to understand the words ‘Mother Earth’ in new and positive ways. And Harvey reassures us that, although the world may seem fragile, ‘no negligible thing could shine so bright.’”—The Sunday Times (UK)

“Slim, soulful, and haunting . . . [Harvey’s] descriptive powers are second to none.”—Telegraph (UK)

“Gorgeous . . . An intensely charged reading experience, sustained by the sensory thrill of Harvey’s imaginative attention to detail.”—Daily Mail (UK)

“A clarion call for our planet through existential awe . . . In contrast to the bleak apocalyptic tone of much contemporary climate fiction, Orbital’s luminous descriptions remind us of the beauty at stake when humanity plays fast and loose with our single, and singular, blue marble.”—Financial Times (UK)

“A radiant explosion of a novel.”—Jamie Quatro

“One of the most beautiful novels I have read in a very long time.”—Mark Haddon, author of The Porpoise

“This is such a beautiful book you have to adjust your readerly heart to take it all in. The plot is simply and extraordinarily our planet, watched by a handful of souls. Orbital wonders what it’s like to be a human ‘with a godly view’ and because Samantha Harvey is such a spectacular prose stylist the wondering takes the form of breathtaking colour storms and brilliant encircling epiphanies of time and scale, technology and love, ambition and faith. It is an awe-inspiring and humbling love letter to Earth and those who reckon with the gift of it.”—Max Porter, author of Shy

“A gorgeous song of praise from on high, a hymn sung in starlight to celebrate mankind’s courage and endeavour. And without preaching or speeching it also serves as a lyric reminder of all we might lose if we do not mend our ways.”—Mike McCormack, author of Solar Bones

“The rarest of things, a book that satisfies both my lifelong obsession with space travel and my hunger for sentences and paragraphs that demand to be read and reread . . . My goodness this novel is beautiful.”—Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

“I admire Orbital even more than the rest of Harvey’s work . . . I don’t think I’ve read anything else with such love for its characters and such clarity about the state of the planet, and I was deeply grateful for the novel’s refusal of despair or cynicism.”—Sarah Moss, author of Summerwater

Orbital is a magnificent, thunderous work and yet so brief, so fleeting. It is an elegy to planet Earth in all its splendour and fragility. Exquisitely well-written, it confirms Samantha Harvey as a singular talent.”—Nathan Filer, author of The Shock of the Fall

“Six astronauts on a space station are working, sleeping, and watching the world go by. They think about typhoons, algal blooms, seascapes, cities at night, Velázquez, frog calls, fried eggs, family. Orbital is a lush description of the gorgeous earth, and a broad-minded, level-headed, affectionate take on what goes on down here.”—Daisy Hildyard, author of Emergency

Praise for The Western Wind:

“Beautifully rendered, deeply affecting, thoroughly thoughtful and surprisingly prescient.”—New York Times Book Review

“Harvey is an intelligent and audacious writer, able and willing to take creative risks and perform stylistic feats. . . This is a beautifully written and expertly structured medieval mystery packed with intrigue, drama and shock revelations…We navigate the corners of Harvey’s characters, all the while marveling at the intricacy of her puzzle and the seductiveness of her prose.”Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Harvey has summoned this remote world with writing of the highest quality, conjuring its pungencies and peculiarities… In this superb novel, time, like guilt, is a murky medium, at once advancing and circling back, and pulling humankind helplessly between its battling currents.”Wall Street Journal

The Western Wind brings medieval England back to life… By the time we find out how Tom Newman died, we’re less interested in a mystery solved and more intrigued by the fate of a long-gone place, a place that Harvey brings to life from its historical tomb.”Washington Post

Praise for The Shapeless Unease:

“To read Harvey is to grow spoiled on gorgeous phrases; she’s an author you want to encounter with pencil in hand.”—New Yorker

“Both cools and warms, lofts and lulls, settling gradually on its inhabitant with an ethereal solidity.”—New York Times Book Review 

“So exquisitely written it’s a challenge to review, as there is an impulse to quote nearly every precise, stylized line. Her chronicle of morality, mortality and memory is adept at capturing the ineffable reservations with—and appreciation for—being alive.”—Newsday

The Shapeless Unease is a masterpiece, so good I can hardly breathe.  I’m completely floored by it.”—Helen Macdonald

The Shapeless Unease captures the essence of fractious emotions—anxiety, fear, grief, rage—in prose so elegant, so luminous, it practically shines from the page. Harvey is a hugely talented writer, and this is a book to relish.”—Sarah Waters

“This book felt enormous to me, mercurial, devastating, seeming to grapple with the nature of everything in a manner so compelling it is impossible not to be swept along. A book to return to again and again.”—Daisy Johnson