From a supremely talented author comes this brilliant and inventive novel, set in Rome in four different centuries, that explores love in all its various incarnations and ponders elemental questions of good and evil, obedience and free will that connect four unforgettable lives.
Spanning two thousand years, The Everlasting follows four characters whose struggles resonate across the centuries: an early Christian child martyr; a medieval monk on crypt duty in a church; a Medici princess of Moorish descent; and a contemporary field biologist conducting an illicit affair.
Outsiders to a city layered and dense with history, this quartet separated by time grapple with the physicality of bodies, the necessity for sacrifice, and the power of love to sustain and challenge faith. Their small rebellions are witnessed and provoked by an omniscient, time-traveling Satan who, though incorporeal, nonetheless suffers from a heart in search of repair.
As their dramas unfold amid the brick, marble, and ghosts of Rome, they each must decide what it means to be good. Twelve-year old Prisca defiles the scrolls of her father’s library. Felix, a holy man, watches his friend’s body decay and is reminded of the first boy he loved passionately. Giulia de’ Medici, a beauty with dark skin and limitless wealth, wants to deliver herself from her unborn child. Tom, an American biologist studying the lives of the smallest creatures, cannot pinpoint when his own marriage began to die. As each of these conflicted people struggles with forces they cannot control, their circumstances raise profound and timeless questions at the heart of faith: What is our duty to each other, and what will God forgive?
“Only Katy Simpson Smith could have written a novel of such elegance, emotional power, and grace. The Everlasting, a quadruple love story spanning two millennia, is no less than the story of love itself—its frustrations and thrills, its blunders and transcendent glories. Meraviglioso.”
- Nathaniel Rich, author of King Zeno
“It is so very rare to find a writer whose blistering ambition when it comes to bringing history alive on the page is matched by an equal ability to build and break sentences in beautiful ways. Katy Simpson Smith is that writer, and The Everlasting -- a bold and ingenious novel spanning multiple time periods and characters with the ease of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas—is full of rich and brilliant ideas about Rome, home, free will, sin, sensation, and civilization. It’s an incredible achievement.”
- Jonathan Lee, author of High Dive
“The Everlasting is, quite simply, a wonder: a mesmerizing quartet of stories rendered in lucid, accessible prose. This is a thrillingly modern narrative that, shifting effortlessly from voice to voice, feels like a good old-fashioned story, the story of a city, one of the world’s oldest, wildest, sexiest (and, incidentally, my favorite on earth): Rome.”
- Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go
“In The Everlasting Katy Simpson Smith has magnificently re-imagined what a historical novel might be, and what our near-now might look like if we could only properly see. A child, a princess, a monk, a father—each storyline feels charged, accurate, uncanny and yet also touched by love. A distinctive and unostentatiously brilliant book.”
- Rivka Galchen, author of Little Labors and Atmospheric Disturbances
“In a rare display of lyrical erudition, Katy Simpson Smith’s gorgeous novel lets us feel the depth and density of history by showing us how every life is both an echo of the past and a relic of the future.”
- Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance
“Following her wonderful and wonderfully ambitious Free Men, Katy Simpson Smith tops herself with The Everlasting, exploring the mysteries of faith displacing fear, grace given to the undeserving, and the eternal question of forgiveness. She is at the forefront of the best young American writers working today.”
- Mark Richard, author of The Ice at the Bottom of the World
“A sparkling historical novel. Smith bounds through 2,000 years of history, following four indelible characters as they grapple with questions of faith, freedom, and transgressive love … Perhaps Smith's most appealing character is Satan, whose weary, ironic comments punctuate a narrative that shines with lyrical, translucent prose. A compelling, beautifully rendered tale of passion and pain.”
- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“In this symphonic novel, Smith composes delicate variations on faith, love, and human transience in the eternal city … The further Smith digs into Rome’s layered past, the more captivating the story becomes. This is an ambitious novel whose characters must choose between sensual or spiritual love, gratification or self-abnegation, principled martyrdom or survival.”
"Strikingly original in its construction and settings ... a robustly earthy, strangely entrancing portrait of the Eternal City as the protagonists cope with the yearnings and frailties of the flesh."
"A rare book whose ambition is matched by its craft and emotional weight ... Smith’s prose is so precise and evocative that each narrative feels as precious as a holy relic ... The result of all these different threads is an exquisite tapestry of history, religion and heartbreak that’s perfect for historical fiction and fabulism fans alike."
"A gifted stylist, Smith crafts the novel with a greater emphasis on lyricism than on any particular plotline, spinning a complex, memorable tale of the vast universe contained in the life of a single city."
- Emily Choate, Chapter 16
"A tricky, ambitious examination of love in Rome that weaves between four centuries and follows four characters, asking big questions while finding grace in small lives."
- Entertainment Weekly, The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2020
"This ambitious historical novel spans some 2,000 years, following four characters in the legendary and ever-dramatic city of Rome. In the eternal city, Smith pits her characters—a monk, a biologist, a martyr, a “bastard princess”—up against our most elemental questions: of love and faith and time. Sometimes Satan wryly comments, which is the thing I’m looking forward to most of all."
- Lit Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2020
"Multiple storylines spanning two thousand years in Italy weave through this elegant feat of historical fiction that follows a child, a princess, a monk and a modern-day biologist. Satan is ever-present, offering his own churlish commentary."
- Newsweek, 40 Must-Read Books to Savor This Spring
"Smith, a talented historian and deft fiction writer, tells of violative love, iterations of faith, and echoes of freedom through a quartet of characters. ... A symphonic and timeless story."
"A novel about the endurance of the human spirit, love, desire, and the interdependence of every living organism across the millennia, could not arrive at a more appropriate time in this moment of panic and pandemic. The Everlasting is a lush, intellectually challenging, and sensuous pleasure. ... You are a bold writer, Katy Simpson Smith. Brava!"
- Scott Naugle, Clarion-Ledger
"The Everlasting shows a writer using all the tools available to her — and excelling at creating something transcendent. ... The emotional heart beating beneath the other layers is the novel’s return to the almost primordial power of love and faith."
- Jesse Davis, Memphis Flyer
"In some sense we are joining a long and noble history of human suffering. And on the other side of suffering is always renewal."
- Sheltering with Maris Kreizman, Interview
"Without summarizing it in any way, what would you say your book is about?" "The fallibility of true love. The infallibility of Satan."
- Lit Hub, 5 Authors, 7 Questions
"How can love make you better? How can it make you perform these sacrifices that are extraordinary?"
- Jackson Free Press, Interview
"'Write what you know' should be 'write what you want to know,' but 'write who you want to be' should be 'write who you are.'"
- Shelf Awareness, Reading With...
"Looking at the world in terms of 2,000-year chunks of time instead of two-week chunks of time is maybe a healthy way to approach this current crisis, too."
- Memphis Flyer, Interview
Tuesday, April 7, 4:00 PM -- *ON INSTAGRAM LIVE!*
In conversation with Mary Miller
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In conversation with Rivka Galchen
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L.A. TIMES BOOK FESTIVAL
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Friday, March 19, 12:00 PM
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Thursday, March 26, 7:00 PM
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Tuesday, March 31, 5:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 1, 6:00 PM
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In conversation with Nathaniel Rich
PASS CHRISTIAN, MS
Thursday, April 2, 5:30 PM
In conversation with Olivia Clare
Wednesday, April 8, 6:00 PM
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In conversation with Odie Lindsey
CHAPEL HILL, NC
Monday, April 13, 7:00 PM
Tuesday, April 14, 7:00 PM
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Wednesday, April 15, 6:30 PM
Monday, April 27, 7:00 PM
In conversation with Paul Yoon