Clear: A Novel (Hardcover)

Clear: A Novel By Carys Davies Cover Image

Clear: A Novel (Hardcover)


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April 2024 Indie Next List

“Insightful and memorable, Clear is an elemental portrayal of loneliness, language, and unlikely companionship. Set on a harsh and unforgiving isle in northern Scotland, Davies elegantly shares how regular daily moments can be profound.”
— Miriam Roskam, Mountain Shire: Books & Gifts, Winter Park, CO

A stunning, exquisite novel from an award-winning writer about a minister dispatched to a remote island off of Scotland to “clear” the last remaining inhabitant, who has no intention of leaving—an unforgettable tale of resilience, change, and hope.

John, an impoverished Scottish minister, has accepted a job evicting the lone remaining occupant of an island north of Scotland—Ivar, who has been living alone for decades, with only the animals and the sea for company. Though his wife, Mary, has serious misgivings about the errand, he decides to go anyway, setting in motion a chain of events that neither he nor Mary could have predicted.

Shortly after John reaches the island, he falls down a cliff and is found, unconscious and badly injured, by Ivar who takes him home and tends to his wounds. The two men do not speak a common language, but as John builds a dictionary of Ivar’s world, they learn to communicate and, as Ivar sees himself for the first time in decades reflected through the eyes of another person, they build a fragile, unusual connection.

Unfolding in the 1840s in the final stages of the infamous Scottish Clearances—which saw whole communities of the rural poor driven off the land in a relentless program of forced evictions—this singular, beautiful, deeply surprising novel explores the differences and connections between us, the way history shapes our deepest convictions, and how the human spirit can survive despite all odds. Moving and unpredictable, sensitive and spellbinding, Clear is a profound and pleasurable read.
Carys Davies’s debut novel West was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, runner-up for the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize, and winner of the Wales Book of the Year for Fiction. She is also the author of The Mission House, which was The Sunday Times (London) 2020 Novel of the Year, and two collections of short stories, Some New Ambush and The Redemption of Galen Pike, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Her other awards include the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Prize, the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Short Story Award, and a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Born in Wales, she lived and worked for twelve years in New York and Chicago, and now lives in Edinburgh. Clear is her most recent novel.
Product Details ISBN: 9781668030660
ISBN-10: 1668030667
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 208
Language: English
"It’s hard to overstate how deftly and viscerally Davies’s prose conveys this world. We see and hear and smell it, shiver with it."
—The Washington Post

"Daring and necessary...the storytelling is sophisticated and playful... Clear contemplates fictional resuscitations, opening itself, and its readers, to the ghosts of lost ideas."
—The New York Times

"A love letter to the scorching power of language, a power that Davies has long understood. She writes with amazing economy: in a few words she can summon worlds… Davies is a writer of immense talent and deep humanity, capable of balancing devastating audacity with equally devastating restraint."
—The Guardian

“In sparse but often gorgeous prose, Clear chronicles the surprising bond that develops between these two men, first through Ivar’s tender ministrations to the injured stranger...Ms. Davies manages to pack a great deal of power into her compact tale.”
—The Wall Street Journal

"There is great pleasure to be found of Davies’s clear and calm prose, her wry asides and deep love of language, and in the book’s quiet optimism. It is a slim, masterfully carved gem of a story that you won’t easily forget: slip it into your pocket."
—Evening Standard

"Davies’ characteristically nimble evocation of place is in evidence throughout… Amid the barbarity of mass evictions, with all their modern resonances, Davies ultimately offers us a story that is hopeful and humane."
—Irish Times

"A lucid and stylish prose writer, Davies is excellent at revealing characters through the language they use and through the gestures and tonal shifts that betray their weaknesses, their prejudices and hollow sentiments… what Clear asks of us in its final pages is a leap of faith more usual in fables and fairy tales – there is also something gratifying in the suggestion, however unlikely, that love, even love of the most improbable kind, can still blossom in a world run by men like Lowrie and Strachan."
—Times Literary Supplement

"Another epic in miniature. Davies manages to pack in more drama and nuance into 160 pages than other authors manage in novels twice that length."
—The Spectator

"Her own language is a marvel of eloquent restraint."
—The Observer

"Wonderfully atmospheric writing."
—Sunday Times 

"Painterly...Her grasp of historical mood rarely falters, and each scene is set with minimal description, leaving space for the reader’s imagination … Clear is a memorable and beautifully told tale"
—Scottish Herald

"[A] gripping novel from Welsh novelist Carys Davis, Clear...feels a bit like a thriller set against a history lesson rendered fantastically vivid...raising questions of belonging, ownership, and how we forge the bonds between people and place that are really durable."

"[Davies] writes epics in miniature…a tender, humane book."
—Times (London)

“This is a gem of a novel that shines with tenderness and courage, and shimmers with the love of a long-lost language… Davies deftly spins out the tension of the situation while delicately describing the developing comradeship between the two men. Sublime.”
Daily Mail

“Historical fact can often lack tangible emotion, but here Davies fills in great swathes of it with the most minimalist of brush-strokes. What she has produced is an atmospheric marvel, because as spare and pared-down as Clear is, it overflows with all the fundamentals of humanity: life, love, connection, empathy. Her characters are so vividly alive, so full of feeling that you can almost hear their hearts pounding.” 
—i Newspaper

Clear keeps the reader on tenterhooks; the ending is both unexpected and satisfying… [Davies has a] rare sense of openness, balance and compassion and a finely-tuned ear. Her books powerfully evoke a sense of place.” 
Country and Town House

“The magic is in Davies’s handling of her material. She packs a huge amount in…and never says more than is needed… To deliver an epic story in miniature like this­–in fewer than 150 pages–is an exceptional achievement.”
The Critic

“A gem of a novel…, a perfectly pitched tale of human connection set at the intersection of two of Scotland’s greatest historic social upheavals… Davies neatly reveals the dilemmas facing each of her protagonists in prose that’s lucid and faultlessly paced… Clear is something to savour.” ­
New Zealand Herald

“[A] great, sturdy piece of writing, from a writer who deserves a lot more attention, who has been steadily creating terrific novels and short stories for years, and Clear is as good a place as any to hop on board.” 

"A humane tale about individuals struggling to maintain dignity beneath competing systems of disenfranchisement...A deft and graceful yarn about language, love, and rebellion against the inhumane forces of history."
—Kirkus (starred review)

"Perceptive and beautiful...blooms with wondrous descriptions of the untamed highlands...this is divine"
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Spare and beautiful…A concise and haunting novel of souls anchored to the consequences of willfully circumscribed lives.”
Booklist (starred review)

"The sheer beauty of Clear—with its perfect sentences, its austere tenderness, and its quiet sense of disquiet—feels timeless ... A poignant, profound depiction of both solitude and connection. Carys Davies has written a masterful, discreetly sublime book."
Hernan Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Trust and In the Distance

“This intriguing and inventive story escorts the reader to an unexpectedly joyous ending that hints at our contemporary interest in new ideas of what a family might be. The writing style is one of clarity and reserved sensibility punctuated with an end-game needle jab. Not to be missed.”
—Annie Proulx, author of Barkskins

“Clear is a compact, taut and brilliant novel with an ingenious premise: one man is sent to evict another from his land, but suddenly requires the second man’s aid. Everything gets more complicated from there. The book is about belonging, a dying language, secrets, and a pistol in a box. I loved every page.”
—Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land

"Clear is a love letter to a vanished way of life, to a landscape, and to human relationships. Captivating, tender, and satisfying, this is a novel to be savoured."
—Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange and The Memory of Animals
"A wonderfully humane and moving depiction of loneliness and the connections forged between strangers that transcend all barriers, even language."
—Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures
"With Clear, Carys Davies has again done brilliantly what she does best - saying most by saying least. She has the rare gift of eloquent brevity — Clear is astute, moving, unexpected."
—Penelope Lively, author of The Family Garden and Life in the Garden

“An exquisite, hopeful masterpiece ... my favorite book of 2024 and probably many more years to come.”
Rachel Joyce, author of Miss Benson's Beetle and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

"Tender, riveting and inventive is Clear, the newest offering and masterpiece from the brilliant Carys Davies. It will take your breath away… What a thrill."
—Sarah Jessica Parker