The Kingdom of Sand: A Novel (Paperback)
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE AND PAPERBACK ROW
“[Holleran’s] new novel is all the more affecting and engaging because the images of isolation and old age here are haunted . . . In 1978 Holleran wrote the quintessential novel about gay abandon, the sheer, careless pleasure of it: Dancer from the Dance. Now, at almost eighty years of age, he has produced a novel remarkable for its integrity, for its readiness to embrace difficult truths and for its complex way of paying homage to the passing of time.” —Colm Tóibín, The New York Times Book Review
“It’s rare to find fiction that takes this kind of dying of the light as its subject and doesn’t make its heroes feel either pathetic or polished with a gleam of false dignity . . . This sad, beautiful book captures the sensations Holleran’s characters are chasing—as well as the darkness that inevitably comes for them, and us.” —Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times
One of the great appeals of Florida has always been the sense that the minute you get here you have permission to collapse.
The Kingdom of Sand is a poignant tale of desire and dread—Andrew Holleran’s first new book in sixteen years. The nameless narrator is a gay man who moved to Florida to look after his aging parents—during the height of the AIDS epidemic—and has found himself unable to leave after their deaths. With gallows humor, he chronicles the indignities of growing old in a small town.
At the heart of the novel is the story of his friendship with Earl, whom he met cruising at the local boat ramp. For the last twenty years, he has been visiting Earl to watch classic films together and critique the neighbors. Earl is the only person in town with whom he can truly be himself. Now Earl’s health is failing, and our increasingly misanthropic narrator must contend with the fact that once Earl dies, he will be completely alone. He distracts himself with sexual encounters at the video porn store and visits to Walgreens. All the while, he shares reflections on illness and death that are at once funny and heartbreaking.
Holleran’s first novel, Dancer from the Dance, is widely regarded as a classic work of gay literature. Reviewers have described his subsequent books as beautiful, exhilarating, seductive, haunting, and bold. The Kingdom of Sand displays all of Holleran’s considerable gifts; it’s an elegy to sex and a stunningly honest exploration of loneliness and the endless need for human connection, especially as we count down our days.
About the Author
Andrew Holleran’s first novel, Dancer from the Dance, was published in 1978. He is also the author of the novels Nights in Aruba and The Beauty of Men; a book of essays, Ground Zero (reissued as Chronicle of a Plague, Revisited); a collection of short stories, In September, the Light Changes; and a novella, Grief.
Praise for The Kingdom of Sand
"Both melancholy and hilarious . . . [The Kingdom of Sand] is remarkable for its readiness to embrace difficult truths." —New York Times Book Review, "Editor's Choice" Pick
“So many of us are wondering, how do we live after losing everything and everyone we loved? Some of us have lived through that, from the most recent pandemic before this one. Andrew Holleran’s report from the other side is a novel with, if not answers to guide us, questions to guide us. An unexpectedly timely novel—wise, shrewd, and in its way, kind, if honesty is ever kind. And written with the sure hand of a master.” —Alexander Chee
“Andrew Holleran writes about desire so beautifully it's occasionally been forgotten that he's one of the best living novelists on friendship. This tender, often very funny novel is a book about that final field of play between friends, when all the masks are removed. I wish it never ended.” —John Freeman, author of How to Read a Novelist
“Timely and pressing . . .[The Kingdom of Sand] has the wit and keen, often biting observations of gay life that made me fall in love with Holleran's books all those years ago. [It] is Andrew Holleran at his best.” —Jeffrey Masters, The Advocate
"[Holleran's] new novel is all the more affecting and engaging because the images of isolation and old age here are haunted . . . in 1978 Holleran wrote the quintessential novel about gay abandon, the sheer, careless pleasure of it: Dancer From the Dance. Now, at almost 80 years of age, he has produced a novel remarkable for its integrity, for its readiness to embrace difficult truths and for its complex way of paying homage to the passing of time." —Colm Toibin, The New York Times Book Review
"It’s rare to find fiction that takes this kind of dying of the light as its subject and doesn’t make its heroes feel either pathetic or polished with a gleam of false dignity . . . This sad, beautiful book captures the sensations Holleran’s characters are chasing — as well as the darkness that inevitably comes for them, and us." —Mark Athitakis, The Los Angeles Times
"A fundamentally honest novel about the loneliness of being human." —Oprah Daily
"It’s a cross between the spareness of Hemingway and the psychological complexity of Proust, and a meaningful way to celebrate Pride Month. Enjoy the luxury of great talent, and a literature we can call our own." —The Provincetown Independent
"[The Kingdom of Sand is] both haunting and ultimately beautiful." —Vogue's "12 New Queer Books to Read This Summer"
"American fiction has no more dedicated elegist—no one more finely attuned to the pain and pleasure of endings—than Andrew Holleran." —The Wall Street Journal
"The Kingdom of Sand [is] Holleran’s splendid new novel and one of the best books I’ve read about what Elizabeth Bishop memorably called “the state with the prettiest name.”' —Book Post
"Holleran is terrific at description . . . Thanks to [his] brilliant gift for characterization, the narrator and Earl come alive on the page, commanding readers’ attention to what is a splendid, remarkably good book." —Michael Cart, Booklist (starred review)
"Holleran’s thoughtful, poetic treatment makes this material deeply moving and an important contribution to the literature of mortality. It’s one of the most beautiful novels of the year." —BookPage
"Thrilling . . . Holleran is fiercely a pointillist. His observations about the minute details of his narrator’s life feel revelatory—and not always specific to the lives of gay men." —Kirkus (starred review)
"[A] majestic and wistful rumination on ageing, loneliness, and mortality . . . This vital work shows Holleran at the top of his game." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The author of the seminal queer classic Dancer from the Dance returns with a wide-eyed and wise novel about the ecstasies and agonies of being an aging gay." —Electric Literature's Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books for Summer 2022
“Andrew Holleran doesn’t write many books—this is his first in 13 years. So when the author of one of the United States’ most enduring tale of modern gay life releases a new title, we have to pay attention.” —Paul Gallant, Xtra
"As melancholy as a summer Sunday sunset at 8:45 p.m., Andrew Holleran’s beautiful new novel is a study in solitude." —LGBTQ Nation
""A heart-wrenching novel that explores the meanings of death and loneliness." —Deep South Magazine
Praise for Dancer from the Dance
“An astonishingly beautiful book. The best gay novel written by anyone of our generation.” —Harper’s Magazine
“Beautifully written, evocative, and hilarious . . . Holleran has the uncanny ability to combine emotional abandon and high comedy.” —New Republic
“Superb . . . Erotic heat percolates through these pages.” —The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Grief
“Grief, [Holleran’s] haunting and unexpectedly exhilarating new novel, takes his longtime themes—loss, desire, the deep joy and solace humans derive from their homes and surroundings—and distills them into a heady, bittersweet aperitif.” —The Washington Post