The protagonist of this novel is Hollis Bragg, the son of a West Virginia preacher who is pretty much a recluse living next to the burned-out remains of his father’s church. He survives by writing songs for a group of musicians who left West Virginia far behind. Russell Watson, a local musician and the rebellious son of a chemical company executive “discovers” and befriends Hollis. Then a chemical spill puts the community in the headlines and forces Bragg to consider whether he wants to stay private or live a public life. "In his narrator, Hollis Bragg, Jordan Farmer has created a compelling character whose personal story and damaged body becomes emblematic of a whole region devastated by environmental destruction. The Poison Flood is a timely and important novel."—Ron Rash. “Once in a great while, a book appears that gives voice to multitudes living just beyond our everyday scope. The Poison Flood establishes Jordan Farmer as a writer whose lyricism and unflinching search for truth places him among those artists who carry our deepest concerns and very best possibilities across time. This is a profoundly good book.”—Jonis Agee. "A fascinating exploration of character, with a story that captivates with suspense and heart; The Poison Flood is a book about the influence of music, the power of art, and the complexities of luck. Irresistible and original.”—Timothy Schaffert. “Hollis himself is vivid…When the novel focuses on a musician’s creative struggles, it sings”—Kirkus Reviews. “Affecting . . . combines an unconventional lead with a sobering portrayal of an environmental disaster’s impact on a small community. Readers who like their fiction to have a social conscience will want to take a look.”—Publishers Weekly. "[A] bizarre and fascinating read that proves that anything is possible in the capable hands of author Jordan Farmer. The novel is immediately engrossing, its characters uniquely memorable, its prose both heartfelt and stunning. The novel takes a number of unexpected and thrilling turns ... [and is] rich in compassion and empathy."—BookPage. "Darkly brilliant and beautifully written...[Farmer's] similes, metaphors and turns of phrase are worth underlining and rereading over and over. They are equaled, if not exceeded, by his sharply drawn characters, who you will remember long after you finish this book."—BookReporter. Jordan Farmer grew up in a small West Virginia town and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska.
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 288 pages. Hardback in dust jacket.