Returning to Earth
Written by Jim Harrison
Publication Date September 01, 2007
Literary giant Jim Harrison's masterpiece novel is a deeply moving story about origins and endings, how to make sense of loss, and how to live with honour for the dead. It is one of the finest novels of Harrison's long, storied career, and confirms his standing as one of the most important writers now working in English.
Donald is a middle-aged Chippewa-Finnish man, the father of two grown children and married to a white woman, Cynthia, who long ago renounced the wealth she was raised with. As Returning to Earth opens, Donald is slowly dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. As his condition worsens he realizes that when he dies, there will be no one left to pass on to his children their family history. He begins dictating to Cynthia stories he has never shared with anyone. Around him, his family struggles with allowing Donald to die with the same dignity with which he always lived.
Jim Harrison is the author of more than twenty-five books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The winner of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, he has had work published in twenty two languages. He divides his time between Michigan, Montana, and Arizona.
"...Harrison succeeds masterfully in detailing the filigrees of sadness, grief and healing that death engenders in those left behind....Harrison's prose is masculine but generous of spirit and nimble, allowing us to feel history like a breeze across the land." Edmonton Journal
"...quietly magnificent...It sharpens one's appetite for life even at its darkest." New York Times
"As with all exceptional writers, anything Harrison puts to paper is instantly literature." Globe and Mail
"It's rare to read a writer who is able to capture life and death so thoroughly as it is, and so thoroughly as it should be." Montreal Mirror
"More than a moving family drama, Returning to Earth is a polyvocal tour de force." Georgia Straight
"Returning to Earth is less a sequel to True North than an inverted viewing of many of that novel's characters and themes through the lens of a happy family, a shift in viewpoint that serves Harrison's gift for capturing, without sentimentality, the joys and challenges of family and community." Toronto Star
"[Harrison presents] a roomy definition of integrity endlessly open to interpretation and based on relationships with the earth, with one's family, with oneself...this [is] fertile ground..." LA Times
"He posits an intriguingly receptive attitude toward mortality in a society that largely finds death aberrant and unfathomable." Boston Globe
"Returning to Earth is [Harrison's] extraordinary valediction to mourning. It sharpens one's appetite for life even at its darkest." New York Times