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Book Review :: How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu book cover image

Guest Post by Kevin Brown

Sequoia Nagamatsu’s novel, How High We Go in the Dark, doesn’t have a plot per se, as it reads more like an interconnected collection of short stories than it does a novel. A character’s wife from one chapter will show up in a later chapter as a friend to the girlfriend of another character, a minor characters in one chapter becomes the focus of a later chapter or vice versa. What the characters do have in common is a tenuous existence, as Earth has become less and less habitable. Throughout much of the book, a pandemic is ravaging the world, killing people by mutating their organ cells, causing hearts to behave like livers or brains to change into lungs. Even after that tragedy becomes more controllable, there is still environmental disaster, as wildfires rage constantly, the Arctic is quickly melting, and sea levels rise by feet, not by inches. What Nagamatsu is most interested in exploring, however, is how people avoid one another, even in the midst of suffering, and how they might still be able to connect to one another. Though technology — perhaps even space travel — could save people’s lives, only true connection has a chance of healing their souls.

How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu. William Morrow, 2022,

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press).  He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. You can find out more about him and his work on Twitter at @kevinbrownwrite or http://kevinbrownwrites.weebly.com/.

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