Cover image for The bear : a novel
Title:
The bear : a novel
ISBN:
9781942658702
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
221 pages ; 19 cm.
Summary:
In an Edenic future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They possess a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, a comb. The father teaches the girl how to fish and hunt, the secrets of the seasons and the stars. He is preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature, for they are the last two left. But when the girl suddenly finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it is a bear that will lead her back home through a vast wilderness, which offers the greatest lessons of all, if she can only learn to listen. A cautionary tale of human fragility, of love and loss, The Bear is a stunning tribute to the beauty of nature's dominion. --
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From National Book Award in Fiction finalist Andrew Krivak comes a gorgeous fable of Earth's last two human inhabitants, and a girl's journey home

In an Edenic future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They possess a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, a comb. The father teaches the girl how to fish and hunt, the secrets of the seasons and the stars. He is preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature, for they are the last of humankind. But when the girl finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it is a bear that will lead her backhome through a vast wilderness that offers the greatest lessons of all, if she can only learn to listen.

A cautionary tale of human fragility, of love and loss, The Bear is a stunning tribute to the beauty of nature's dominion.

Andrew Krivak is the author of two previous novels: The Signal Flame , a Chautauqua Prize finalist, and The Sojourn , a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey, New Hampshire, in the shadow of Mount Monadnock, which inspired much of the landscape in The Bear .


Author Notes

Andrew Krivak is the author of three novels: The Bear ; The Signal Flame , a Chautauqua Prize finalist; and The Sojourn , a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He is also the author of A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life , a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit Order, and editor of The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams, 1902-1912 , which received the Louis L. Martz Prize. Krivak lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey, New Hampshire.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

With artistry and grace, National Book Award--finalist Krivak (The Sojourn) offers a story of endurance and a return to life with nature in a postapocalyptic world, where an unnamed father and daughter are the only remaining humans on earth. The father teaches his child the rudiments of survival--hunting, fishing, and other life lessons--preparing her for a time when she will someday have to manage without him. That day comes sooner than expected, when, on one of their forays away from the protected mountain home he and his now deceased wife had constructed before their daughter's birth, he is bitten by an animal and soon after dies from infection. Then, the book takes a mystical turn when a bear befriends the girl, now 12, helping her recover from her father's death and teaching her where to find fish, nuts, berries, and other kinds of sustenance as they make the arduous trip back to her home, so she can inter her father's bones on the mountaintop where her mother's remains are buried. Krivak delivers a transcendent journey into a world where all living things--humans, animals, trees--coexist in magical balance, forever telling each other's unique stories. This beautiful and elegant novel is a gem. (Feb.)


Kirkus Review

A moving post-apocalyptic fable for grown-ups.We're not entirely sure why it is that an unnamed man and his unnamed daughter are an endangered species, but we do know, after the man dies, that the animals call her "the last one." Before his demise, the man teaches his daughter how to hunt, make snowshoes and arrows, comprehend the ways of the trees and the seasons in their mountain stronghold; they read "poetry from poets with strange names like Homer and Virgil, Hilda Doolittle and Wendell Berry, poems about gods and men and the wars between them, the beauty of small things, and peace," and they talk night and day about the things that matter. Krivak (The Signal Flame, 2017, etc.) delivers no small amount of poetry himself in what might have been a cloying exercise in anthropomorphism, for once the preteen daughter is alone, a noble-minded bear takes care of her, avoiding "the place of the walls" where humans once dwelled in favor of alpine lakes and, in winter, a remote cave. A puma joins in the adventure to provide food while the bear sleeps, assuring her that she will become part of a story "for the forest to remember for as long as there is forest beneath the sun." Part of the girl's task is to bury her father on the distant mountaintop next to her mother's grave, then, as the years pass, to honor them, "a girl no longer, though forever their child." A literary rejoinder of sorts to Alan Weisman's The World Without Us (2007), Krivak's slender story assures us that even without humans, the world will endure: The bears and mountain lions will come into their own in a world of buckled roofs and "ruined books," and they themselves will tell stories under the light of the Great Bear. That's small comfort to some humans, no doubt, but it makes for a splendid thought exercise and a lovely fable-cum-novel.Ursula K. Le Guin would approve. An effective, memorable tale. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Krivak's (The Signal Flame, 2017) spare, lyrical latest is a meditative fable set in a near-future, post-civilization world. A father is raising his young daughter in a remote cabin, gradually teaching her the survival skills she will need once he is gone. The characters are simply referred to as the girl and the father. The mother passed away from complications of childbirth. Once the girl is old enough, the pair make a pilgrimage to visit the mother's grave atop a nearby mountain. Soon, they set out to find the beach and along the way discover ruins of a residential community. The father's curiosity gets the better of him and this sets in motion the girl's long journey back to the mountainside to find peace in an abandoned world. The sentences are polished stones of wonder and the setting deliberately vague, likely several generations since humans were earth's dominant species. Nature has reclaimed its dominance. The elegiac tone reflects what is lost and what will be lost, an enchantment as if Wendell Berry had reimagined Cormac McCarthy's The Road (2006).--Bill Kelly Copyright 2019 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Most postapocalyptic novels bury us in blood or debris, but Krivak offers a completely different understanding of humans at the end of the line. Partly inspired by poet Randall Jarrell's The Animal Family, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and following The Signal Flame, a Chautauqua Prize finalist, and The Sojourn, a National Book Award finalist, this engagingly different work chronicles a father alone in the world with his daughter as the last two people on Earth after civilization's ruin. We're not sure what happened to everyone else, even after the pair leave their mountain hideaway on a journey to a remnant of what was once human habitation. But no matter. As the narrative unfolds in graceful, luminous prose, the father teaches his young charge how to survive and tells her fantastical--or maybe not so fantastical--tales about bears. Throughout, the sense of wonder at nature's beauty is palpable, and those bears? One guides the daughter when she is finally left on her own, and shares the secrets of how animals and humans once communicated, and has he got stories to tell. VERDICT Poignant but not tragic, this end-of-civilization story shows that there's no loneliness in this world when we are one with nature. [See Prepub Alert, 7/1/19.]--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal