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In a world where global power has shifted east and revolution is brewing, two women embark on vastly different journeys -- each harrowing and urgent and wholly unexpected.

When Meena finds snakebites on her chest, her worst fears are realized: someone is after her and she must flee India. As she plots her exit, she learns of The Trail, an energy-harvesting bridge spanning the Arabian Sea that has become a refuge for itinerant vagabonds and loners on the run. This is her salvation. Slipping out in the cover of night, with a knapsack full of supplies including a pozit GPS system, a scroll reader, and a sealable waterproof pod, she sets off for Ethiopia, the place of her birth.

Meanwhile, Mariama, a young girl in Africa, is forced to flee her home. She joins up with a caravan of misfits heading across the Sahara. She is taken in by Yemaya, a beautiful and enigmatic woman who becomes her protector and confidante. They are trying to reach Addis Abba, Ethiopia, a metropolis swirling with radical politics and rich culture. But Mariama will find a city far different than she ever expected -- romantic, turbulent, and dangerous.

As one heads east and the other west, Meena and Mariama's fates are linked in ways that are mysterious and shocking to the core.

Written with stunning clarity, deep emotion, and a futuristic flair, The Girl in the Road is an artistic feat of the first order: vividly imagined, artfully told, and profoundly moving."


monica byrne


Praise for The Girl in the Road: A Novel

"Sci-fi has long claimed to be the multicultural literature of the future. This is the real thing."
- The Wall Street Journal

"Monica Byrne traveled around the world--Ethiopia, India, the South Pacific--gathering material for this incredible debut that propels her into the front line of young American writers who are moving beyond the blast of the Western canon."
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"In its refusal of genres and boundaries, its celebration of ancient heritage and a riotous profusion of languages, religions, smells and tastes, and above all in its heartfelt, humorous appraisal of the shocking beauty of life, all scars and suffering included, The Girl in the Road is profoundly generous and humane writing; wise without posturing. I have no doubt that it is quite simply one of the best books written this year."
- Pop Matters

"Byrne can tell a damn good story."
- The Rumpus

"Relentlessly kinetic... Byrne creates a world in which her female protagonists have genuine agency...a liberating and, at times, dizzying exploration of the human possibilities enabled once traditional norms are fully transcended."
- LA Review of Books

"One of The Girl in the Road's many strengths [is] Byrne's nuanced yet viscerally potent exploration of sexuality. There's a lyricism to her prose that's both blunt and deceptively dimensional...delivered with all the vivid, haunting poignancy of a vision quest."
- NPR

"This spectacular and intriguing book of parallel journeys takes place in the near future and the present day; two narratives that are seemingly unrelated arrow together in a shattering climax...enthralling on many levels. The incorporation of evolving views of gender...propel this novel into the stratosphere of artistic brilliance.
- Library Journal (starred)

"Byrne's debut novel may be the most inventive tale to come along in years."
- Kirkus

"Byrne meticulously and lovingly provides a language with which we can begin to make sense of what we've been given in the form of this intricate, deeply resonant debut novel."
- Strange Horizons

"The Girl in the Road gleefully defies the notion of genre, refusing to subvert itself to any criteria but its own. It is, suffice it to say, a phenomenally engaging work."
- The Maine Edge

"It's transfixing to watch Monica Byrne become a major player in sci-fi with her debut novel: so sharp, so focused and so human. Beautifully drawn people in a future that feels so close you can touch it, blended with the lush language and concerns of myth. It builds a bridge from past to future, from East to West. Glorious stuff."
- Neil Gaiman, author of The Ocean at the End of the Lane

"Monica Byrne's vision of India and Africa as an ever-changing maelstrom of language and culture, technology and sexuality is utterly captivating. As Meena and Mariama chase each other's echoes, Byrne strips away their preconceptions (and ours as well) through that most dangerous of human impulses: our need to understand the past, and to decide our own future. An electrifying debut."
- Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni

"Monica Byrne has written the road trip novel you didn't know you were waiting for. A genuine and extraordinary journey. Take it."
- John Scalzi, author of Redshirts

"The Girl in the Road is a brilliant novel, vivid, intense, and fearless with a kind of savage joy. These journeys-Meena's across the Arabian Sea and Mariama's across Africa-are utterly unforgettable."
- Kim Stanley Robinson, author of 2312 and Red Mars


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