All That Is Solid Melts into Air: A Novel (Paperback)
“Brilliantly imagined in its harrowing account of the Chernobyl disaster and exhilarating in its sweep, All That Is Solid Melts into Air is a debut to rattle all the windows and open up the ventricles of the heart. . . . The book is daring, exhilarating, generous and beautifully written.” — Colum McCann
A brilliant and gripping novel set against the tragedy of Chernobyl and the way in which the lives of its survivors were forever changed in its wake. Part historical epic, part love story, it recalls The English Patient in its mix of emotional intimacy and sweeping landscape.
Russia, 1986. On a run-down apartment block in Moscow, a nine-year-old prodigy plays his piano silently for fear of disturbing the neighbors. In a factory on the outskirts of the city, his aunt makes car parts, hiding her dissident past. In a nearby hospital, a surgeon immerses himself in his work, avoiding his failed marriage.
And in a village in Belarus, a teenage boy wakes to a sky of the deepest crimson. Outside, the ears of his neighbor's cattle are dripping blood. Ten miles away, at the Chernobyl Power Plant, something unimaginable has happened. Now their lives will change forever.
An end-of-empire novel charting the collapse of the Soviet Union, All That Is Solid Melts into Air is a riveting and epic love story by a major new talent.
DARRAGH McKEON was born in 1979 and grew up in the midlands of Ireland. His debut novel, All That Is Solid Melts into Air, was published in 2014 to widespread international acclaim and was translated into nine languages. Since then, after travelling extensively, he has returned to live in the west of Ireland.
“A startling achievement….McKeon’s characters may already have receded into history, but by imprinting their triumphs and tragedies onto the imagination with such visceral empathy, he has given them a deserving afterlife in this powerful novel.” — Anthony Marra, New York Times Book Review
“This daring and ambitious novel blends historical epic and love story…. Darragh McKeon handles the struggles of his characters with care and compassion and creates a book rich with resonance far beyond its historical moment.” — Colm Tóibín
“Brilliantly imagined in its harrowing account of the Chernobyl disaster and exhilarating in its sweep, All That Is Solid Melts into Air is a debut to rattle all the windows and open up the ventricles of the heart.…McKeon is here to stay.” — Colum McCann
“This debut novel is set in 1986, the year of the catastrophe at Chernobyl, and that disaster serves as the dramatic backdrop for the unfolding of action and character.… Serious and thoughtful fiction.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“McKeon’s fiction serves up, without cliché, what so many futuristic dystopian novels aspire to: a reminder that human beings can bring about their own demise.” — Publishers Weekly
“Set amidst the Chernobyl disaster, McKeon’s…graceful writing gives depth to his characters as they navigate indelibly changed landscapes and search for connection within chaos.” — Booklist
“This startling debut novel is a love story set against the harrowing tale of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.… A promising debut; highly recommended.” — Library Journal (starred review)