O Magazine's Top 20 Books to Read This Summer!
"In this searing hallucinatory novel set partly in a lunarlike desert, Bell captures a mood of sexual menace, tracing the fates of a teenage girl and her birth mother as they home in on each other. Fleeing the advances of three boys, Julie stumbles into a trippy odyssey among cave paintings, while Marissa, her mother, embarks on her own fever-dream trek toward the daughter she gave up. Best known for his acclaimed Haitian trilogy—All Souls' Rising, Master of the Crossroads and The Stone That the Builder Refused—Bell draws on his own experiences with voodoo possession to re-create his characters' descent into a sinister otherworld. The novel toys with perspective—women shape-shifting into rocks or animals; the same life-or-death scene played repeatedly, with myriad outcomes—in a kind of primal storytelling that crackles with dread and desire."--O Magazine
When Julie skips school and sets off with her best friend and some local boys for a camping trip in the desert, she finds herself the target of unwanted, drug-fueled sexual attention. Running away in fear, she takes a dangerous fall down the shaft of a vast underground cave, and it takes two days for her to be rescued. Lying unconscious in her hospital bed, Julie hovers between life and death as she travels in a seductive parallel universe inspired by remarkable cave paintings left behind by prehistoric humans.
Marko, her attacker, tries to cover his tracks, menacing those who know what happened in the desert that night. Jamal, the youngest son in a family of Iraqi refugees living in Julie’s small town, is one of his prime targets. He defies Marko, keeping him away from Julie’s bedside and refusing to fall prey to his threats of violence.
Meanwhile, Marissa, who gave Julie up for adoption fifteen years earlier when she became pregnant as an adolescent, is following an instinct that leads her back to the daughter she once abandoned. With the aid of Jamal and a local Native American hitman/shaman, she attempts to draw Julie back to consciousness.
Madison Smartt Bell is best known for his trilogy of novels about Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution, including All Souls’ Rising, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.
Praise for Behind the Moon:
"Madison Smartt Bell writes with the urgency of someone who just received a dire prognosis. And Behind the Moon will remind you that you are alive." —Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Here I Am
"Between fever dreams and stone hard reality, Madison Smartt Bell has crafted a powerful examination of what is and what might be. It is simply wonderful." —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard out of Carolina
"I love these characters. I love the writing. Behind the Moon is a brilliant work." —Percival Everett, author of Half an Inch of Water
"Bell gives us this fast-paced, spiritually inspired dream-story, full of heart and hope and danger. It's adventure at its finest: a spiked drink, a desert cave, a gunshot, a mother looking for her child. Buckle in: you are headed for a terrific ride."—Deb Olin Unferth, author of Wait Till You See Me Dance
"Behind The Moon is a visceral, full body primal experience; terrifying, seductive, Madison Smart Bell at his best."—A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven
"Behind the Moon is a thrilling and uncannily powerful story by one of the best living American fiction writers. I couldn't put it down."—John McManus, author of Fox Tooth Heart
"Madison Smartt Bell is one of the great american masters. This book has a pre-religous power, read it and be inspired."—Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair: A Novel