Over the course of the next few Fridays, I’m excited to share with you all three new selections from the September catalog of The Folio Society. As many of you know, I’m a devoted fan of The Folio Society editions of classic literature, and the three I received so generously from the publisher have done nothing but encourage my adoration. This week, I want to highlight their edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS.
I’m drawn in by the incredible cover art and the interior illustrations that The Folio Society are known for, and one of the things I truly appreciate about their editions are the sturdy slipcovers that are also well-designed. The fact that TFS puts thought into not just the artwork for the book, but also its display case, is excellent. This particular edition was also a collaboration between Le Guin herself and the publisher, which makes it all the more unique and special. As a Le Guin fan, I’m proud to own this one.
According to The Folio Society:
Described by Margaret Atwood as ‘one of the literary greats’ and by Stephen King as ‘a literary icon’, Ursula K. Le Guin stands as a colossus in the field of speculative fiction. The Left Hand of Darkness won multiple awards, including the Hugo for best novel, making Le Guin the first woman to win it; appropriate indeed, given that her extraordinary novel of betrayal, loyalty, love and survival was to change the conversation about gender for ever. In her introduction, novelist Becky Chambers – herself nominated for both the Clarke Award and the Hugo – calls the book ‘a titan’, one that gave rise to new perspectives on what fiction could be.
About the Book:
Genly Ai is an Envoy, a diplomat sent to make first contact with inhabited planets. Winter, a world locked in a perpetual ice age, is a particularly daunting challenge: its people are androgynous, only taking on male or female sexual characteristics during ‘kemmer’, a monthly period of change and arousal. Struggling to understand the intricacies of a society where anyone could be both mother and father to multiple children, Genly is soon caught in the dangerous machinations of politicians and kings who care little for his life, or the potential life beyond their planet. He is left with little choice but to flee across a vast ice sheet, a journey dangerous enough for a native of Winter, let alone a human ill adapted to extreme cold. Yet with survival and desperation comes trust, and Genly gains a new understanding of Winter and its people.
About the Illustrated Edition:
Like the layers of snow, ice and rock that make up Winter, The Left Hand of Darkness is a novel of many layers. Le Guin’s lifelong interest in anthropology and cultural diversity is the bedrock of every page, with chapters devoted to Winter’s mythology, oral history and folk stories. Winter itself, where the habitable stretch of land is always in danger of being suffocated by ice, feels utterly real – Le Guin crafts a world of lethal beauty and completely believable complexity. David Lupton, who provided the illustrations for the Folio edition of A Wizard of Earthsea, returns with a series of sensitive and intimate black and white artworks. Le Guin herself was closely involved in directing the look and feel of this edition, with the binding, slipcase and endpapers specially designed to invoke the icy atmosphere of Winter.
Book copy and all images are courtesy of The Folio Society. Feel free to review the September Collection, it is brilliant! Please come back next Friday, when I feature the new Folio edition of Thomas Hardy’s JUDE THE OBSCURE.