Having spent his childhood trapped in the slums of a politically volatile Caribbean island, Alexandre dreams of escape. Within only a few years, he rises from being a valet for an important politician to becoming caretaker for a derelict estate purchased by a wealthy foreign businesswoman.
While the rest of the country copes with the rise of a brutal dictator, Alexandre flees to his new home in the remote mountains outside the capital. There he oversees the restoration of a manor house and gardens that evoke for him an innocent, unspoiled past. When his new employer sees a chance to turn the estate into something more—a decadent, jet-setting resort—Alexandre views the undertaking as the culmination of his dreams.
Eager to lose himself in the creation of this opulent Eden, Alexandre severs the last links to his unhappy past, including his family and friends. But as the outside world starts to crumble around him, Alexandre must face the limits of the utopia he has created. Soon he is trapped in the middle of a war he has tried to ignore, and he can only watch as his sanctuary is invaded by an armed gang of slumdwellers fighting to topple a savage regime. Ultimately, Alexandre discovers he will have to choose between preserving the estate he loves and protecting the people he has spent his life trying to escape.
"Hebert demonstrates an ambition and clarity of vision that is rare in a first novel. A rich, synthesized imagining of the personal history of a country torn asunder." —Kirkus Reviews
“Epic and self-assured.” —Metro Pulse
“Hebert conjures a vibrant atmosphere, as rich a character as any inhabitant, whether in the fetid stink of the slums or the cool, detached opulence of the most affluent homes, and each locale is made more striking by the close proximity of the other.” —Booklist
“Allegories about the morality of international development projects are rarely as subtle and lyrical as Christopher Hebert's debut novel, The Boiling Season." —Miami Herald
“The Boiling Season is a subtly crafted novel and an auspicious debut.” —Dayton Daily News
“The wealthy live behind walls on a protected hillside, literally looking down at the capital's teeming slums below. Political careers are built on money and brutality, and the island's racial divide is the lingering legacy of colonial rule. . . . In The Boiling Season, those who seek to impose order on what they perceive as chaos are as vulnerable to corruption as the system they promised to change.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“A compelling debut. . . . The author's ruminations on apathy intelligently address one of the most troubling concerns of the 21st century.” —Eagle Star-Review
"It's remarkable to see an American novel so profoundly steeped in the tradition of the great Haitian writers of the twentieth century. The Boiling Season . . . is a hypnotically fascinating novel.” —Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls' Rising
“All the best political novels ask us how and where we are called to action. At what cost is wealth in the midst of poverty maintained? And who collaborates in its maintenance? The Boiling Season asks all the right questions, and it answers those questions beautifully, with great dramatic force.” —Charles Baxter, author of Gryphon: New and Selected Stories and The Feast of Love
"The Boiling Season is not only a deeply engrossing narrative, it is a luminous and important one as well. I found myself reading paragraphs aloud for the loveliness of the language at some points, and turning the pages too quickly for that at points where my investment in the plot and the characters was all-consuming. Christopher Hebert is a serious new novelist, one who's offered us a real gift—a mesmerizing entertainment that uplifts, educates, moves and changes us.” —Laura Kasischke, author of In a Perfect World and The Raising
“With an unforced formality of diction, the narrator of this chill tale sets forth an island's history and its people's sorrows: what they hope for, what they dream of, how that dream becomes a nightmare in the end. Yet the whole is told with such clear-eyed compassion that the reader comes to honor failure—one mark of this novel's success.” —Nicholas Delbanco, author of Sherbrookes
“A compelling psychological study, a tour-de-force of restrained, unreliable first-person narration, a love letter to a beautiful, forgotten place, and a visceral depiction of Haitian political upheaval—The Boiling Season is all that and more. A truly auspicious debut.” —Michael Knight, author of The Typist and Divining Rod
“The Boiling Season is a beguiling political novel played out on an intimate scale. Set against a backdrop of Edenic beauty, it's a story of innocence corrupted, but also of the corruption inherent in striving to preserve innocence in a postlapsarian world. Hebert conjures this strife-torn island—at once fictitious, but also hauntingly familiar—with uncanny precision and compelling lucidity.” —Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl