Winner of the John Simmons (Iowa) Short Fiction Award
"Best Short Story Collections of 2016" - Electric Literature
"Recommended Reading 2016" - Necessary Fiction
"Best of 2016: Best Fiction Books" - Entropy
Of This New World offers a menagerie of utopias: real, imagined, and lost. Starting with the Garden of Eden and ending in a Mars colony, the stories wrestle with conflicts of idealism and practicality, communal ambition and individual kink. Stories jump between genres—from historical fiction to science fiction, realism to fabulism—but all ask that fundamental human question: is paradise really so impossible?
Over the course of twelve stories, Hyde writes with a mix of lyricism, humor, and masterful detail. A group of environmental missionaries seeks to start an ideal eco-society on an island in The Bahamas, only to unwittingly tyrannize the local inhabitants. The neglected daughter of a floundering hippie commune must adjust to conventional life with her un-groovy grandmother. Haunted by her years at a collegiate idyll, a young woman eulogizes a friendship. After indenturing his only son to the Shakers, an antebellum vegan turns to Louisa May Alcott’s famous family for help. And in the final story, a former drug addict chases a second chance at life in a government-sponsored space population program. An unmissable debut, the collection charts the worlds born in our dreams and bred in hope.
FROM UNIVERSITY OF IOWA PRESS
Praise for OF THIS NEW WORLD
“An ambitious and memorable debut, in which a dozen different characters, looking for a dozen different paradises, all end up learning some customized version of that ultimate Miltonic lesson: ‘the mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.’"
—Bennett Sims, judge, 2016 John Simmons Short Fiction Award
“Hyde’s luminous prose and ability to inject meaning with subtlety keeps the collection on the darkly humorous edge of melancholy. Her characters face the encroaching darkness of the world head on, yet somehow continue to see a way out, finding that space where disaster opens innumerable possibilities to carve a new world from the ruins. This collection presents an appealing selection of diverse worlds from a bright and bold new voice in fiction.”
“Allegra Hyde is a talented ventriloquist, gifting each of her stories its own compelling voice, full of history and science, myth and folklore, humor and heart. But behind every façade lie Hyde’s unmistakable talent, her inventive imagination, and her joyful play with language. This is a great debut, not to be missed.”
—Matt Bell, author, Scrapper
“Of This New World is the right title for a collection that’s so witheringly deadpan and compassionate about who we are now. From Adam and Eve to an uprooted flower child to a maimed veteran to a Mexican domestic to a hapless glue-sniffing colonist on Mars, these protagonists are runaways and spirit-seekers who know the power of mystery and license and desire, and believe in resistance and in living the solution and the willingness to dream, even as they confront their own unfulfilled promise. Having learned detachment as a survival strategy, they acknowledge a love that always stops short of fulfillment but remains exhilarating nonetheless.”
—Jim Shepard, author, The Book of Aron
“With rare style, refined mischief, and a fearless spirit of philosophic and scientific inquiry, the twelve stories in Allegra Hyde’s Of This New World brilliantly orbit our longing for paradise, our ache for some elusive perfection within the human community.”
—Melissa Pritchard, author, Palmerino and A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write
"A luscious collection (and John Simmons Short Fiction Award winner) promising more good things to come."
— Library Journal
"The book is a must-read for its storytelling power, its ecological awareness, and the sharp prose through which Hyde renders worlds both real and imagined."
"It has the usual elements: well-developed characters, self-discovery, richly imagined worlds, and the type of un-showy formal experimentation we can expect from winners of the Iowa and John Simmons Short Fiction Awards. It also has a little something extra..."
—Center for Literary Publishing
"Sentence for sentence, this collection is chock-full of audacious prose, passages that are perfect in pitch and in rattling the terrain."
—The Adroit Journal
"Of This New World finds its life in the hearts of those who seek redemption... Hyde never relents in her use of language or evocation of emotion."
—Chicago Review of Books
"Hyde’s scope is wide in this slim volume, as is her style."
"This is such a compelling and promising first book by a really talented author."
"To the extent you are worried [that the 'American experiment' might have reached some kind of end point]... Allegra Hyde’s new short story collection, Of This New World, is a very important book."
—Hayden's Ferry Review
"Hyde has her fingers on the pulse of today and the particular patterns humanity follows time and time again."
—Heavy Feather Review
"Hyde deftly juggles multiple voices and time periods."
—Black Warrior Review
“Allegra Hyde writes with a genius scientist’s impassioned inquiry, and a poet’s lyrical, exquisite precision.”
—Tara Ison, Ball: Stories
"These stories pack wisdom and recognizable human striving and stumbling."
"[Hyde] writes with careful, exact accuracy, risky but masterly, parsimonious with well-chosen, you-are-there words. She’s a writer mason with a deft hand for catchy descriptions of place."
—The Keene Sentinel
"Hyde’s stories allow for fictional circumstance to be explored, while at the same time holding realistic qualities to each and every moral undertone."
"Of This New World is a sunshine hippie flower-girl just woken up to discover that she’s stuck in the grime of reality."