This week’s other featured books, “Kimber,” by L.K. Hingey and “The Zipper Club: A Memoir,” by Thomas Mannella, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.
THE BOOK: Family, Genus, Species
PUBLISHED IN: 2017.
THE AUTHOR: Kevin Allardice
THE EDITOR: Jon Roemer
THE PUBLISHER: Outpost19
SUMMARY: Vee just wants to know where to put the present. She’s come to her nephew’s fourth birthday party — at a sprawling urban farm in Berkeley, California — and has brought a simple gift that she hopes will allow her access into the family she feels alienated from. But when Vee’s older sister admonishes her, saying the invitation explicitly told people to not bring gifts, Vee sets out — through a backyard maze of kale plants, fruit trees, and unrecognizable but surely healthy flora — to give her nephew his birthday present. Along the way, she must negotiate with party guests, capricious children and hostile adults, and those who insist they know more about her than she does. As night falls, and civil unrest flares in the city beyond the backyard, what began as biting satire becomes nightmarish and violent, and Vee’s straightforward mission becomes an epic quest to claim both personal identity and human connection.
THE BACK STORY: I began writing this at the end of 2014, during the start of the Black Lives Matter protests, and I was interested in the ways that privileged, white, ostensibly progressive families were navigating, or failing to navigate, that cultural reckoning. I began thinking about that in conjunction with the Luis Bunuel film The Exterminating Angel — in which a group of elites become mysteriously trapped in a mansion — and that’s when this young woman’s visit to her sister’s backyard had absorbed enough energy to begin generating its own momentum.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title — Family, Genus, Species — is, of course, part of the taxonomic rank of biology, and it popped up organically in the first chapter, at a moment when the main character — who once aspired to a career in the sciences, but dropped out of college. She often turns to orderly systems of thought to make sense of the chaos of her family relationships, and so when I typed those words in the first chapter, it resonated immediately, and the title stuck.
REVIEW COMMENTS: In a review at Full-Stop, Nina Renata Aron called the novel a “complex, layered not simply with satire, but with emotional revelations about family, community, sexuality, parenthood, race, and class.” And Gloria Beth Amodeo at the Literary Review wrote that “Family Genus Species is a novel about structures, physical ones like urban gardens and inner ones born from trauma. It’s a whip-smart tale of a simple, singular desire that snowballs into destruction and takes all the structures with it.”
AUTHOR PROFILE: I’m the author of one previous novel, Any Resemblance to Actual Persons (Counterpoint Press, 2013). I currently teach high school in the Bay Area, where I live with my wife, son, and our pet rabbit, Harvey.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: Please see a sample chapter in the preview at Amazon.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Despite the Amazon link above, please patronize Indie Bound.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: kevinallardice.com