Name that dystopian (?) novel!
September 6, 2019 5:23 AM   Subscribe

I randomly read an ad/blog post/promo/something on a local bookstore’s website (I think?!) about 2 years ago (I think??!) about a novel that I remember really wanting to read, but for whatever reason I did not purchase it at that time. Now that I have room in my life for pleasure reading, I have since forgotten EVERYTHING about it, except for the scant few details and fuzzy impressions included below. Is anyone out there a miracle worker/mind reader who can tell me what book this is?!

Here’s what I fuzzily remember. Any of these details might be wrong because my memory is THAT BAD:

- vaguely dystopian/post-apocalyptic/rebuilding society from nothing kind of vibe
- possibly written by a woman, but almost certainly with a female protagonist
- set in North Carolina/ Appalachia/somewhere vaguely southern (but maybe not named as such due to aformentioned collapse of society?)
- Possibly a one word title?? Or a very short title?
- I know these categories are meaningless except to book marketers, but it was definitely being pushed as a “literary” rather than “genre” title.
- I don’t think it was a YA book, but I think the protagonist might’ve been young?
- (this is the fuzziest, but most important part) there was something in this write-up to do with the novel being interested in questions of art/literature/writing/literacy (?) being lost? Or maybe rebuilt/reconstructed? Maybe hoarded and kept away from people?? SOMETHING!! Gah. I wish I could remember because this was the bit that made me want to read it the most!!
- It is NOT Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven,” but I do remember thinking that this vaguely reminded me of that.

The bookstore website where I think, but cannot be certain, that I read about this was The Regulator in Durham, NC. It’s also highly possible that what I read was not actually on their website, or was just linked from their website, or was in no way connected to them at all and my brain is just misremembering, so my scouring of their website archives has (not surprisingly) turned out to be fruitless. General googling of various key terms has also turned up nothing promising.

I know it’s not a lot to go on, folks, but if anyone can solve this little puzzle, MetaFilter can!!!
(Unless, of course, I hallucinated/dreamt the whole which case I guess I should get started on writing this badass novel!)
posted by Dorinda to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
Annihilation? Female protagonist, set in the vague South. It sort of defies genre, though could loosely be described as 'weird science fiction.' It's part of a trilogy, the remaining books being Authority and Acceptance.
posted by jquinby at 5:43 AM on September 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

It only matches some of your criteria, but maybe Tatterdemalion by Sylvia V Linsteadt.
posted by misteraitch at 5:46 AM on September 6, 2019

The Seclusion by Jacqui Castle?
posted by essexjan at 6:04 AM on September 6, 2019

The Power by Naomi Alderman?
posted by CheeseLouise at 6:05 AM on September 6, 2019 [5 favorites]

Peng Shepherd, The Book of M?
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:13 AM on September 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is not at all the book you're looking for (it's not set in the South), but it is a post apocalyptic world and it is SO well conceived and written that I think you'll love it: The Rending and the Nest.
posted by correcaminos at 6:22 AM on September 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

American War, by Omar El Akkad? It has the young female protagonist, dystopian southern setting, and literary marketing; I'm not sure about the art/literature plot element (I haven't read it myself).
posted by songs about trains at 6:23 AM on September 6, 2019

Is it Bannerless?
posted by entropone at 6:32 AM on September 6, 2019

Here's a few that meet a few of your qualifications but not all:

Severance by Ling Ma - Millennial woman, starts out in NYC but travels to midwest.

Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman - protagonist is a child

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee - protagonist is a young woman. I definitely remember one part that was Appalachia-ish

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan - I haven't read this one but it was compared to Station Eleven and it's got a short name!

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer - short name, has a female protagonist, vaguely Southern
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:48 AM on September 6, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: FOUND IT, y’all!! About 30 seconds after posting this question, my Googling suddenly bore fruit:

Scribe, by Alyson Hagy

So, while I am WOEFULLY embarrassed to have wasted everyone’s time (and an Ask question!) by answering my own mystery, I am delighted to learn that my memory is actually quite good (one word title! Dystopian Appalachia! Female protagonist! Woman writer! Loss of literacy plot point! Power of storytelling theme!). I’m also extra delighted to have inadvertently generated an intriguing reading list of dystopian fiction.

posted by Dorinda at 7:00 AM on September 6, 2019 [34 favorites]

I see you already have your answer, but I still want to mention Swan Song as a book with a similar vibe that you might also like.
posted by diogenes at 10:37 AM on September 6, 2019

To add two more titles to your list, I'll recommend Rebecca Roanhorse's Trail of Lightning and Storm of Locusts (Goodreads x2), the first two books in her Sixth World series, focusing on the Navajo nation and featuring Diné people, language and customs (which is a bit contentious, considered by some to be cultural appropriation (Wikipedia), as Roanhorse is not Diné herself, though she is of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and African-American heritage).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:37 AM on September 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'll also add Vox by Christina Dalcher to this vein of novels.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:03 PM on September 6, 2019

I got here too late, so you’ll just have to trust me that I would’ve floated Scribe as a possibility. Also, I loved it. Hope you do, too!
posted by minervous at 8:58 PM on September 6, 2019

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