by Meghan Gilliss
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Pub Date 13 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2022
Tuck is slow to understand the circumstances that have driven her family to an uninhabited island off the coast of Maine, the former home of her deceased grandmother where she once spent her childhood summers. Squatting there now, she must care for her spirited young daughter and scrape together enough money to leave before winter arrives—or before they are found out.
Relying on the island for sustenance and answers—bladderwrack, rosehips, tenacious little green crabs; smells held by the damp walls of the house, field guides and religious texts, a failed invention left behind by her missing father—Tuck lives moment-by-moment through the absurdity, beauty, paranoia, and hunger that shoots through her life, as her husband struggles to detox.
Exquisitely written and formally daring, Lungfish tells the story of a woman grappling through the lies she has been told—and those she has told herself—to arrive at the truth of who she is and where she must go. Meghan Gilliss’s debut is a brilliant and heartbreaking novel about addiction, doubt, marriage, motherhood, and learning to see in the dark.
A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year
"Riveting . . . Gilliss shines with a lyrical style and bold, fragmented structure . . . Tuck’s resilience makes her an indelible creation. Out of a tangible sense of desperation, Gilliss produces a triumph."
—Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)
"Gilliss is an extraordinary writer; passages of the novel read like poetry, and others read like a lyric essay . . . The peril the family is in keeps the pages flying . . . As startling and intense as the windswept landscape the book depicts."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Meghan Gilliss’s Lungfish is a force of nature—a deeply felt marvel of a book that navigates grief, parenthood, and the mysteries of family with unrelenting power and precision. Here is a story about the islands we build and carry with us. Here is storytelling at its best."
—Paul Yoon, author of Snow Hunters and Run Me to Earth
“Lungfish offers up journeys physical and psychic, so it’s fitting that it takes place on an island, which is a transitional place. It’s about families, past and present, and the lifelines they provide, along with their often tangled confusions. The revelations about the natural world are wonderful, and give a sense of what endures.”
"Lungfish is as suspenseful as a thriller, as finely wrought as a poem, and as heartbreaking as a love song. Meghan Gilliss is an extraordinary writer. I loved this book."
—Kate Christensen, author of The Last Cruise
“Tender, brutal, and faultless on the line, Lungfish masterfully explores how estranged family can be as present and punishing as weather. A poetic debut as rich and intentional as the sea.”
—Marie-Helene Bertino, author of Parakeet
"Lungfish is a lyrical force, a narrative which moves in rhythm reminiscent of the tide, with sentences that sting in their salty complexity and yet are also soothing, like a balm."
—Makenna Goodman, author of The Shame
"In Lungfish, Meghan Gilliss has written a remarkable book about motherhood, survival, marriage, lies, money, and drug use. Gilliss' prose is a brilliant light in the darkness the novel explores. This book will haunt me, in the very best way."
—Annie Hartnett, author of Unlikely Animals
“At the center of this miraculous and absorbing book is a bracing portrait of a young woman at a pivotal moment in her life. Meghan Gilliss has a rare and electrifying talent for illuminating the precise rhythms of thought and feeling—while also keeping us lovingly immersed in the grit and brine and lucid fascinations of island living. This novel is an absolute treasure.”
—Lewis Robinson, author of Water Dogs
"This deeply moving book about motherhood, family, and the pains of addiction will leave a lump in your throat. Gilliss understands grief and puts it on display with such poignancy. Lungfish will engulf you."
—Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful
“This is a novel about the real Maine, one where family and landscape converge to make or break you, where emotions are tied to the weather, to the body, to the past. Meghan Gilliss’s exquisite prose and exploratory narrative reflects her main character’s searching and conflicted inner dialogue and gives rise to a new kind of heroine: an ordinary woman who survives despite everything against her. Lungfish is broody and breathtaking, like the Maine coast itself. What a soaring debut!”
—Kerri Arsenault, author of Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains
"Lungfish is a novel steeped in the harshness and beauty of the natural world, in which islands may be both real and metaphorical, where a woman may be accompanied by child and husband but also alone in navigating grief and responsibility . . . Atmospheric, haunted, but struck through with beauty and love, Lungfish is one to remember."
—Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness
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