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Writers' Guild Best First Novel Award, 2020

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349700328

Price: £14.99

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‘Terribly moving. A clear-sighted, poignant rumination on loneliness, love, the melancholy of age and of youth’
China Mieville

‘An imaginative, atmospheric and original novel that lingers in the memory long after readingBernadine Evaristo

‘A sad, funny, highly original novel Blake Morrison

‘Wholeheartedly enjoy(able)’ Lauren Wilkinson, The Millions

‘Season Butler is an extraordinary writer. Like Colson Whitehead, her work is fearless in its inventiveness’ Julia Bell

It’s too hot for most of the clothes I packed to come here, when I thought this would only be for a week or two. My mother kissed me with those purple-brown lips of hers and said, we’ll be back, hold tight.

The Kid doesn’t know where her parents are. They left with a promise to come back months ago, and now their seventeen-year-old daughter is stranded on Swan Island.

Swan isn’t just any island; it is home to an eccentric old age separatist community who have shunned life on the mainland for a haven which is rapidly sinking into the ocean. The Kid’s arrival threatens to burst the idyllic bubble that the elderly residents have so carefully constructed – an unwelcome reminder of the life they left behind, and one they want rid of.

Cygnet is the story of a young woman battling against the thrashing waves of loneliness and depression, and how she learns to find hope, laughter and her own voice in a world that’s crumbling around her.

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Season Butler (in her novel Cygnet) describ[es] an island occupied, with one exception, by geriatrics - the exception being the narrator, whose wise reflections on age, race, class and global warming belie her tender youth
Blake Morrison, New Internationalist
Season Butler is an extraordinary writer. In this wonderful novel the narrative voice is rhythmic and compelling, telling a coming of age story which resonates with our times. Like Colson Whitehead, her work is fearless in its inventiveness. I've always thought Season was the real deal, this book proves that she has arrived
Julia Bell, Author, The Dark Light
Terribly moving. A clear-sighted, poignant rumination on loneliness, love, the melancholy of age and of youth - and, in its quiet way, the end of the world
China Miéville
[A] vivid, poetic debut
Daily Mail
As sixteen-year old environmental activist Greta Thunberg has shown us, teenagers are the ideal candidates for raising consciousness about our planetary plight. Kid's ardent voice powers Cygnet. Her expression of the loneliness, boredom and rage she feels at her circumstances is reminiscent of Holden Caulfield . . . the characters have real emotional depth . . . Cygnet is both very funny and convincingly tragic, its young narrator memorably charismatic and self-aware
Literary Review
An original novel with a memorable narrator
Elle (Eight Books to Devour)
Coming-of-age fiction is a well-established genre but I doubt there's ever been a novel in which the narrator turns 18 on an island exclusively occupied by oldsters. And not since Holden Caulfield have I been so captivated by a first-person voice as the one Season Butler creates in Cygnet: 'kiddo' or 'small-fry' as the Wrinklies call her is super-bright but also naive, tough-minded but also vulnerable, self-reliant but also adrift. How long will she remain on the island? How long will the island itself remain, increasingly eroded by the ocean as it is? Will her parents arrive in time to celebrate her birthday? We don't know, but this sad, funny, highly original novel keeps us turning the pages to find out
Blake Morrison, Author of Things my Mother Never Told Me
Season Butler has written an imaginative, atmospheric and original novel that lingers in the memory long after reading . . . A bright new voice in literature
Bernardine Evaristo
[A] potent debut . . . A strange, promising beginning
An uncanny meditation on mortality and intergenerational distrust