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Euphoria [Kindle Edition]

Lily King
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (225 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“It’s that moment about two months in, when you think you’ve finally got a handle on the place. Everything clicks and it all feels within your grasp…at that moment the place feels entirely yours. It’s the briefest, purest euphoria.”

From the critically-acclaimed author of Father of the Rain comes a breathtaking novel about three gifted and groundbreaking anthropologists of the ‘30s bound together by an all-consuming passion.

For years, English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field studying the Kiona tribe of Papua New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brother’s public suicide, and increasingly infuriated with and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of killing himself when a chance meeting with colleagues, the controversial and consummate Nell Stone and her wry Australian husband Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just finished their studies of the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell’s ill health, the couple is ravenous for another new discovery. Together with Bankson they set out to uncover the Tam, a local tribe with an almost mythic existence. As the trio settle with the tribe in their paradisiacal surroundings, inspiration flows and mutual affections swell. In the midst of this new, unchartered territory, Nell, Bankson, and Fen must learn not only to adapt to their invigorating present, but to also confront their complicated and haunted pasts.

Set between two World Wars, and based on the adventures of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is a luminous and remarkable story of the power of possibility, imagination, and memory, from accomplished author Lily King.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for EUPHORIA

"The love lives and expeditions of controversial anthropologists Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson are fictionalized and richly reimagined in New England Book Award winner King’s (Father of the Rain) meaty and entrancing fourth book...King’s immersive prose takes center stage. The fascinating descriptions of tribal customs and rituals, paired with snippets of Nell’s journals—as well as the characters’ insatiable appetites for scientific discovery—all contribute to a thrilling read that, at its end, does indeed feel like 'the briefest, purest euphoria.'"—Publishers Weekly(starred review)

“Set between the First and Second World Wars, the story is loosely based on events in the life of Margaret Mead. There are fascinating looks into other cultures and how they are studied, and the sacrifices and dangers that go along with it. This is a powerful story, at once gritty, sensuous, and captivating.”—Booklist

"Atmospheric...A small gem, disturbing and haunting."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“There are some novels that take you by the hand with their lovely prose alone; there are those that pull you in with sensual renderings of time and place and a compelling story; and there are still others that seduce you solely with their subject matter. But it is a rare novel indeed that does all of the above at once and with complete artistic mastery. Yet this is precisely what Lily King has done in her stunningly passionate and gorgeously written Euphoria. It is simply one of the finest novels I’ve read in years, and it puts Lily King firmly in the top rank of our most accomplished novelists.”
— Andre Dubus III

“With Euphoria, Lily King gives us a searing and absolutely mesmerizing glimpse into 1930’s New Guinea, a world as savage and fascinating as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, where obsessions rise to a feverish pitch, and three dangerously entangled anthropologists will never be the same again. Jaw-droppingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful. I loved this book.”—Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

“I have come to expect Lily King’s nuanced explorations of the human heart, but in this novel she pulled me in to the exotic world of a woman anthropologist working with undiscovered tribes in 1930s New Guinea and I was totally captivated. Euphoria is a great book! So great, that I stayed up late to finish it."—Karl Marlantes

“Writers are childlike in their enthusiasm about other writers’ good work. They’re thinking: How’d they ever think of that? That’s amazing/beautifully written/true! Imagine all the effort that went into pulling this off. Could I do something this original/surprising/moving? I’m always happy to read Lily King, and I particularly enjoyed reading Euphoria.” –Ann Beattie

“Fresh, brilliantly structured, and fully imagined, this novel radically transforms a story we might have known, as outsiders—but now experience, though Lily King's great gifts, as if we'd lived it.” —Andrea Barrett

“Lily King delves into the intellectual flights and passions of three anthropologists – as complex, rivalrous and brutal as any of the cultures they study. Euphoria is a brilliantly written book.”
—Alice Greenway

“Adventure and romance, danger and knowledge, desire and desolation: these are a few of my favorite things. And, exquisitely braided, they form the core of Euphoria. Set in the 1930’s, in a New Guinea that Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson would recognize with delight and trepidation, this passionate and thrilling new novel reminds us that all our mores are fictions, that culture itself is only a story we tell ourselves. And what a harrowing tale Lily King weaves from these threads. I’m left breathless, excited, ready to wander and explore, a little afraid, enamored, enlightened. “—Bill Roorbach

About the Author

Lily King’s first novel, The Pleasing Hour won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second book, The English Teacher, was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Maine Fiction Award. Father of the Rain was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year, and winner of the 2010 New England Book Award for Fiction. Lily King lives with her family in Maine.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3179 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (June 3, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,771 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Human Beings in the Mirror May 13, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Although the jacket will tell you that this book is inspired by the story of real people, leave that aside while you are reading. For King's novel is enthralling in its own terms, both about the early days of anthropological study in the 1930s, and as a hot-blooded tale about inspiration, rivalry, and desire. The setting in New Guinea. Australian ethnographer Schyler Fenwick and his wife Nell Stone have just come downriver after an unproductive stay with a tribe known as the Mumbanyo. At least it was unproductive for her; Fen, as he is called, would have liked to stay, but Nell is the decision-maker of the two, having just published a best-seller that has eclipsed her husband's dry academic monograph. They run into an English anthropologist called Andrew Bankson, the book's main narrator. He is lonely after spending two years with a tribe on the Sepik River, and urges Nell and Fen to transfer their study to another tribe a few hours away from him by boat, known as the Tam.

Although he tries to keep his distance, it is clear that Andrew has fallen for Nell, and she finds she can have conversations with him that she cannot with her husband. But the triangle of desire does not play out as simply as that. The Tam (and Andrew's tribe, the Kiona) appear to have different customs from most of their neighbors, with some striking reversals of the normal gender roles. Separately and together, the three scientists make important discoveries, including the sketch of a quasi-Cartesian classification system that could lead to a Unified Theory of Anthropology. But they are also aware of the biases brought by their own personalities; Andrew wonders at one point whether an anthropologist's field report says more about the people being studied or the author doing the writing.
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74 of 89 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Three anthropologists form a circumstantial friendship in the 1930s while studying tribes in Papua, New Guinea. American Nell Stone (who is inspired by Margaret Mead) already has a best selling book on natives of the Solomon Islands. Nell's Australian husband, Fen, is jealous of her success, and is often reproachful and competitive. He is desperate to make a name for himself, and, instead of collaborating with Nell, he keeps his work hidden. However, Fen admits to a genuine regard for his wife's work.

The couple had recently studied the Mumbanyo, a frighteningly barbaric tribe, and left abruptly, at Nell's request, resigning to move to Australia to study the Aboriginal peoples. Fen wanted to stay in New Guinea; he is after a totemic flute that he learned of during their last days with the Mumbanyo, and believes that securing it is the key to his glory. However, out of love and dedication to Nell, he capitulated.

Andrew Bankston is a tall, lanky, wistful anthropologist who recently failed at suicide. He met Nell and Fen quite spontaneously, and talked them out of Australia and back into New Guinea, promising to find them a stimulating tribe to study. He corrals them on his motorized boat, and helps them settle in with the Tam people, about seven hours from where he is studying with the Kionas. Periodically, he comes to visit, and their developing friendship provides much of the adventure and drama of the novel. Each of them has their own talents and approach to ethnography. Fen thrives on experience, on doing, saturating in the culture by joining the inhabitants, almost impetuously. He's a hustler, and can learn languages swiftly--"he absorbs words like sunlight." Nell is a thinker with a deep empathy and imagination. Language is limited, in her estimation.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed perspective on an exotic land July 8, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I cannot at all trust the credibility of this book in its portrayal of New Guinea and its people. Three times in descriptive passages monkeys are referred to. For example, on page 36 we are told of 'monkeys caterwauling on high branches'. As New Guinea has no monkeys this is a fundamental error revealing that the author has little knowledge of the country, its flora and fauna and probably of its people, and so may have misled us in other ways. An unforgiveable mistake, a failure of essential research by an author and a display of embarrassingly ignorance of the country in which the novel is set. No mention of tree kangaroos. The story is very much focussed on the relationships between the three main (European) characters while the depictions of the local people and their culture, and the natural world, is scanty and little more than a backdrop to the interpersonal drama. Euphoria may be a good read as an adventure story, and stimulating of reflection on the undertaking of anthropological field work at that time, albeit with all its colonialist baggage. There was, however, little real attention given to the perspective of the local people and their response to the presence of these western visitors, and to the shock of 'first contact', again revealing that the colonialist mindset is extant today.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! I Wished it Was Longer! April 14, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Once I’d read the first chapter of Lily King’s latest novel, "Euphoria", I knew I was going to love it. It fascinates like Yanagihara’s, "The People in the Trees" and Patchet’s, "State of Wonder", two other recent novels with anthropological settings.
The novel is lush with vivid descriptions of the New Guinea landscapes, rivers, rainforests and indigenous people. I found myself hoping that a film would be made from it, especially after I looked up the Rainbow Gum Tree on the internet; it’s truly an amazingly beautiful specimen.
The story is set in the 1930s. Andrew Bankson is lonely and somewhat stagnant in his study of one of the Kiona river tribes, when fellow anthropologists, Fen and Nell arrive on the run from a hostile tribe. Andrew is desperate to keep them nearby for their company, and also for his attraction to Nell. There is a delightful scene where Andrew takes Fen and Nell, via canoe, “tribe shopping” along the river. They are to select their new tribe to study and it’s much like selecting a piece of real-estate; Nell is completely like a woman shopping for a house, looking for the perfect setting and amenities. She is bothered by the slightest detail of a place (“a pair of picky anthropologists”) until they meet the tribe on beautiful Lake Tam, where they settle. That’s all of the plot I’ll give away!
Not only is the novel beautifully written and in a fascinating setting, the characters are wonderfully rendered; so much so that my only complaint about the novel is that it was over too soon. This is a case where I’d have loved 100 more pages of these characters and this setting!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a very well written novel that follows much ...
This is a very well written novel that follows much of Margaret Mead's work with unstudied tribes. Nell and Andrew are particularly
appealing characters. Read more
Published 15 hours ago by winnie phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it. Fascinating from the git-go
Loved it. Fascinating from the git-go. Real characters who never lose their viability. It never panders to the reader. Really lovely work.
Published 1 day ago by Stephen P. Harris
3.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Ending
I liked most of this book, but the end was a huge disappointment. I hate endings where you don't know for sure what happened, or why it happened. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Pamela Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 days ago by Mickail H. Simmons
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
This book held my interest until the last page. The characters and setting were believable. There were no excursions away from the plot to add more "interest" to the story. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Claudia
4.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed by the ending
It was brief, and that in itself is a plus. Most authors go on waaaay too long to tell their story. The characters were engrossing and believable. Read more
Published 6 days ago by John McCotter
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
As an anthropology major(60 years ago), it was really enjoyable.
Published 8 days ago by Avis Lampert
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read
I had recently read a short essay written by Lily King where she talks about her fear of marriage. Fortunately for her, the marriage has been strong and enduring. Read more
Published 8 days ago by marion f wolf
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book and read voraciously from cover to cover ...
I loved this book and read voraciously from cover to cover long before I discovered Lily King was a Yarmouth (Maine) author, or that this book has been optioned for a film (which I... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Meredith Jordan
1.0 out of 5 stars mediocre writing at best with cardboard cutout characters
Unoriginal and unimaginative, ignorant of place and history due to inferior and even lazy research, mediocre writing at best with cardboard cutout characters, this quickly became a... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Ken
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More About the Author

Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad.

Lily's first novel, The Pleasing Hour (1999) won the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second, The English Teacher, was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Maine Fiction Award. Her third novel, Father of the Rain (2010), was a New York Times Editors Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Novel of the Year and winner of both the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Maine Fiction Award. Lily's new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, being named an Amazon Book of the Month, on the Indie Next List, and hitting numerous summer reading lists from The Boston Globe to O Magazine and USA Today. Reviewed on the cover of The New York Times, Emily Eakin called Euphoria, "a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace."

Lily is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Writer's Award. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines including Ploughshares and Glimmer Train, as well as in several anthologies.

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