Story of a Place That Never Was: Valente Reads from “The Habitation of the Blessed”

Island author Catherynne M. Valente, a Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award Nominee, treats us to another new novel (she introduced Palimpsest last year) at her Longfellow Books reading on November 18th.

When I don’t see Catherynne on the ferry, I know that she’s either writing or off on a book tour, connecting with friends. Her upcoming travels launch The Habitation of the Blessed: A Dirge for Prester John, the first volume of a trilogy that tells the story of, well, a place that never was. Think Shangri-La, Thule, or the Fountain of Youth – legendary places that have fascinated explorers and writers for centuries.

The Habitation of the Blessed imagines the “Kingdom of Prester John,” a utopia described by an anonymous, widely-disseminated 12th document. Pope Alexander III’s conviction about the existence of this marvelous kingdom led him to write to Prester John in 1177. Valente asks “What if there was such a place…where everything is possible, immortality is easily had, and the Western world is nothing but a dim and distant dream?”

The Habitation of the Blessed

Come hear from The Habitation of the Blessed‘s protagonist,  a Brother Hiob of Luzerne on missionary work in the Himalayan wilderness on the eve of the eighteenth century. Brother Hiob discovers a village guarding a miraculous tree whose branches sprout books that chronicle the history of the kingdom of Prester John.

November 18, 2010 7 p.m.

Longfellow Books

Portland, Maine

The Habitation of the Blessed, 2010 from Nightshade Books

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