A Shout in the Ruins

A Shout in the Ruins

Set in Virginia during the Civil War and a century beyond, this novel by the award-winning author of THE YELLOW BIRDS explores the brutal legacy of violence and race in American society.

Spanning over one hundred years, from the antebellum era to the 1980's, A Shout in the Ruins examines the fates of a diverse cast of characters connected to Beauvais Plantation in Chesterfield County, Virginia. When war arrives, the master of Beauvais, Anthony Levallios, foresees that mastery in a new America will be measured not in acres of tobacco under cultivation by his slaves, but in industry and capital. A grievously wounded Confederate veteran loses his grip on a world he no longer understands, and his daughter finds herself married to Levallois, an arrangement that feels little better than imprisonment. And two people enslaved at Beauvais plantation, Nurse and Rawls, overcome impossible odds to be together, only to find that the promise of coming freedom may not be something they will live to see.

Seamlessly interwoven is the story of George Seldom, a man orphaned by the storm of the Civil War, looking back from the 1950s on the void where his childhood ought to have been. Watching the government destroy his neighborhood to build a stretch of the interstate highway system through Richmond, Virginia, and recognizing that his days on earth are coming to an end, he travels south to try to fill in that void. With the help of a young woman, he goes in search of his beginnings, all the while remembering the life that witnessed so much change during the 20th century, and so much that didn't. As the narrative finds that young woman farther in the future, now in her middle age, the questions remain: How do we live in a world built on the suffering of others? And can love exist in a place where for 400 years violence has been the strongest form of intimacy?

Written with the same emotional intensity, harrowing realism, and poetic precision that made THE YELLOW BIRDS one of the most celebrated novels of the past decade, A SHOUT IN THE RUINS cements Powers' place in the forefront of American letters and demands that we reckon with the moral weight of our troubling history.

Title:A Shout in the Ruins
Edition Language:English
ISBN:null
Format Type:

    A Shout in the Ruins Reviews

  • J.L.   Sutton

    I really enjoyed Kevin Powers’ A Shout in the Ruins. A central thesis of this multigenerational novel which begins right after the Civil War is that history is destiny. And violence and racism are u...

  • Diane S ?

    3.5 The lingering effects of the civil War isexp!ored in this novel, using multiple threads. The latter takes place nearly a hundred years after wars end, and this thread follows the quest of a very o...

  • Trish

    At a time when our country is again in the midst of a noisy national conversation about race, Kevin Powers creates a powerful fiction to illuminate the not-so-distant terrors and strains of our Civil ...

  • Ron Charles

    Kevin Powers's debut novel, “The Yellow Birds,” was one of the first about the Iraq War and one of the most celebrated novels of the era. A finalist for a National Book Award, it won praise from T...

  • Faith

    I made it to the 41% point of the book and gave up. There were too many characters and too much shifting among time periods. I also didn't enjoy the writing style. About an injured soldier: "He saw wh...

  • Jill

    When I reviewed Kevin Powers’ elegiac first novel—The Yellow Birds—I began with this line: “All pain is the same. Only the details are different.” In this, his second novel, Kevin Powers doe...

  • Dax

    How is it possible for love to exist in a world, or more specifically, in a country built on war and hate? That is the question Powers poses in his second novel. And what a special novel it is. The wr...

  • Brian

    This compact and powerful novel is remarkable in the way it conveys over a hundred years of Virginia (and by extension, United States) history, tracing the lives of characters who are deliberately arc...

  • Gumble's Yard

    “Open your eyes. Tell me what it looks like. Come back in five years, in ten, in a hundred and tell me what you’ve accomplished.” Kevin Powers debut novel was the widely acclaimed novel The ...

  • Kathleen

    As a National Book Award Finalist for The Yellow Birds, Powers was able to capture how war can unleash evil and violence among the combatants; and then be haunted by these memories in their dreams. In...