From Annie Proulx – the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain – comes her masterpiece, 10 years in the writing: an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness, set over two centuries.
In the late 18th century, Rene Sel, an illiterate woodsman, makes his way from Northern France to New France to seek a living. Bound to a feudal lord, a seigneur, for three years in exchange for land, he suffers extraordinary hardship, always in awe of the forest he is charged with cleaning. Rene marries an Indian healer with children already, and they have more, mixing the blood of two cultures. Proulx tells the stories of the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of two lineages, the Sels and the Duquets, as well as the descendants of their allies and foes, as they travel back to Europe, to China, to New England, always in quest of a livelihood or fleeing stunningly brutal conditions – accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, the revenge of rivals.
Proulx’s inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid – in their greed, their lust, their vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope – that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable American writers of our time, and Barkskins is her Moby Dick.