Thanks to COVID-19 and subsequent stay-at-home orders resulting in a mostly locked-down US, a lot of people have been looking for something to read, and many of them have a new-found interest in global pandemics. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Ammonite, my first novel. Ammonite really is the little book that could. It started as a super low-price, low-quality mass market paperback that no one (except me) expected to do well. But it won a few awards, and was short-listed for several others, and over the years it’s been through a variety of editions—each with better cover, more glossy formats, added maps and glossaries, etc. And, now, finally, there’s an audiobook edition. And still, after 27 years in print, twice a year I get royalty cheques. This all pleases me very much. I’ts not just the money—though, yay! money! it’s good to get paid for what I do—it’s the continued thrill of seeing new people discover this book that meant so much to me so long ago. This is the book—the awards, the translations, the glowing reviews—that made it possible for me to be declared an Alien of Exceptional Ability by the US State Department, and granted a National Interest Waiver to live and work in this country. It was the advance for this book that formed the downpayment on our first house in Atlanta. I’ts not really an exaggeration to say this book changed my life. So for all those reasons, I am inordinately fond of this book.
So I’m pleased to tell you that Ammonite will be Oregon Public Radio’s bookclub pick later this month. I’ll be doing a 5-min segment on “Think Out Loud” on Friday, sometime between between 12:30 and 12:45, just to introduce the book. Then we all have a couple of weeks to read it. Then there’ll be another show, this time a forty-minute segment, for an interview with me followed by call-in questions. So if you fancy reading along with a few thousand Oregonians, get thee to a bookstore. Most libraries have it. And of course there’s that audio edition, just released last month.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
Change or die. These are the only options available on the planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony has lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep—and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives. Terrified of spreading the virus, the company abandons its employees, leaving them afraid and isolated from the natives. In the face of this crisis, anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives to test a new vaccine. As she risks death to uncover the women’s biological secret, she finds that she, too, is changing—and realizes that not only has she found a home on Jeep, but that she alone carries the seeds of its destruction…
Ammonite is an unforgettable novel that questions the very meanings of gender and humanity. As readers share in Marghe’s journey through an alien world, they too embark on a parallel journey of fascinating self-exploration.
If you want to know more about the book, go take a look at the Ammonite page, where you can find reviews, links to readings, links to previous bookclub discussions, and more.