A Stranger in Olondria

A Stranger in Olondria ds

William L. Crawford Award
British Fantasy Award
World Fantasy Award

Nebula Award
Locus Award for Best First Novel

Jevick, the pepper merchant’s son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick’s life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria’s Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.

In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire’s two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country simmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that seductive necromancy, reading.

~ Read an excerpt ~

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“Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria is gloriously vivid and rich.” ~ Adam Roberts, The Guardian

“Jevick’s journey is an enchanting tale of wonder and superstition, revealing the power of books and the secret traditions of ancient voices. Samatar’s sensual descriptions create a rich, strange landscape, allowing a lavish adventure to unfold that is haunting and unforgettable.” ~ Library Journal (starred review)

“[J]ust about every piece is in place here—it’s the rare first novel with no unnecessary parts—and, in terms of its elegant language, its sharp insights into believable characters, and its almost revelatory focus on the value and meaning of language and story, it’s the most impressive and intelligent first novel I expect to see this year, or perhaps for a while longer.” ~ Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

“Sofia Samatar has an expansive imagination, a poetic and elegant style, and she writes stories so rich, with characters so full of life, they haunt you long after the story ends. A real pleasure.” ~ Chris Abani, author of GraceLand and The Secret History of Las Vegas

“For its lyricism, its focus on language, and its concern with place, it belongs on the shelf with the works of Hope Mirrlees, Lord Dunsany, and M. John Harrison — but for its emotional range, it sits next to books by Ursula K. Le Guin or Joanna Russ.” ~ Jane Franklin, Rain Taxi

“Mesmerizing—a sustained and dreamy enchantment. A Stranger in Olondria reminds both Samatar’s characters and her readers of the way stories make us long for far-away, even imaginary, places and how they also bring us home again.” ~ Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“With characteristic wit, poise, and eloquence, Samatar delivers a story about our vulnerability to language and literature, and the simultaneous experience of power and surrender inherent in the acts of reading and writing.” ~ Amal El-Mohtar, Tor.com

“What if you came from a country with a purely oral tradition, and then you had to learn the written language of another culture? That’s the magical question at the heart of a brilliant new novel, Sofia Samatar’s A Stranger in Olondria.” ~ Na’amen Tilahun, io9

“Thoroughly engaging and thoroughly original. A story of ghosts and books, treachery and mystery, ingeniously conceived and beautifully written. One of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in recent years.” ~ Jeffrey Ford, author of The Girl in the Glass

“Gorgeous writing, beautiful and sensual and so precise—a Proustian ghost story.”  ~ Paul Witcover, author of Tumbling After

“Imagine an inlaid cabinet, its drawers within drawers filled with spices, roses, amulets, bright cities, bones, and shadows. Sofia Samatar is a merchant of wonders, and her A Stranger in Olondria is a bookshop of dreams.” ~ Greer Gilman, author of Cloud & Ashes

“Let the world take note of this dazzling and accomplished fantasy. Sofia Samatar’s debut novel is both exhilarating epic adventure and loving invocation of what it means to live through story, poetry, language. She writes like the heir of Ursula K. Le Guin and Gene Wolfe.” ~ Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners

“Part of what so many reviewers of the book have praised as its world building and its beautiful sentences comes, I think, from its attention to how one dwells in and with the world.” ~ Keguro Macharia, The New Inquiry

“But even as I am caught up in Jevick’s travails, his initial euphoria and then his mishaps and disappointments, I find myself consistently captivated by language,for it is in this regard especially that A Stranger in Olondria is a truly transnational work of imagination.” ~ Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing