Book details


A Novel

Author: Marie-Helene Bertino




About This Book

A Dakota Johnson x TeaTime Book Club Pick
A Best Book of the Year: The New York Times Book Review, Time, Elle, Esquire, Goodreads,...

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On Sale

Book Details

A Dakota Johnson x TeaTime Book Club Pick
A Best Book of the Year: The New York Times Book Review, Time, Elle, Esquire, Goodreads, and WBEZ Chicago
A Must-Read: Nylon, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, Kirkus Reviews, BookRiot, The Christian Science Monitor, Our Culture, The Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia magazine

“A monumental accomplishment, a shimmering masterpiece.”
—Michael Schaub, The Boston Globe

“A book that I will recommend to people for the rest of my life.” —Dakota Johnson, Bustle

From the acclaimed author of Parakeet, Marie-Helene Bertino’s Beautyland is a wise, tender novel about a woman who doesn’t feel at home on Earth.

At the moment when Voyager 1 is launched into space carrying its famous golden record, a baby of unusual perception is born to a single mother in Philadelphia. Adina Giorno is tiny and jaundiced, but she reaches for warmth and light. As a child, she recognizes that she is different: She possesses knowledge of a faraway planet. The arrival of a fax machine enables her to contact her extraterrestrial relatives, beings who have sent her to report on the oddities of Earthlings.

For years, as she moves through the world and makes a life for herself among humans, she dispatches transmissions on the terrors and surprising joys of their existence. Then, at a precarious moment, a beloved friend urges Adina to share her messages with the world. Is there a chance she is not alone?

Marie-Helene Bertino’s Beautyland is a novel of startling originality about the fragility and resilience of life on our Earth and in our universe. It is a remarkable evocation of the feeling of being in exile at home, and it introduces a gentle, unforgettable alien for our times.

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Reading Guide

In The News

“[A] remarkable funny-sad novel . . . Astonishing.”
—Alexandra Jacobs, The New York Times

“Within moments of cracking open the cover to Marie-Helene Bertino’s Beautyland, I was sold . . . A landmark work of literary science-fiction . . . A wonder . . . as tender and intimate as it is conceptually courageous.”
—Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle

“Warm, witty, and touching, Beautyland is an out-of-this-world exploration of loneliness and belonging.”
—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

“The heroine of Marie-Helene Bertino’s strange, engrossing third novel is at once fully human and entirely otherworldly . . . Underlying these paradoxes is the poetic observation that there’s nothing more human than the experience of gazing out at a planet full of incomprehensible people who look just like you and deciding that you must be from outer space.”
—Judy Berman, Time

“A startling novel about a woman who believes she is an alien . . . I read Beautyland in forty-eight hours and was so distracted by the ending that I left my passport on the plane.”
—Charlotte Owen, Bustle

“So surprising and so delightful.”
—Gilbert Cruz, The New York Times Book Review

“[The] kind of fiction that, in its pitch-perfect encapsulation of reality, functions to help us mourn the distance between the world we want and the world as it is . . . Bertino has given us a novel about our very real, very human longing for connection with one another.”
—Shayne Terry, Chicago Review of Books

“Wry, melancholy, utterly bewitching . . . Deftly blurring the line between reality and metaphor to create a work of exquisite beauty, joyfully off-kilter humor, and aching sorrow, Beautyland, and Adina’s lonesome journey, will fill and then shatter your heart.”
—Dan Sheehan, Literary Hub

“[Beautyland] is interested in the charged terrain of uncertainty and the tender ideas that emerge when we poke at the unknown . . . From this gorgeous data of existence, Bertino taps into a particular nostalgic awe familiar to a generation of kids raised on Carl Sagan and inflatable lunchroom planetariums . . . [Adina] continues to hope for something beyond humanity, something better, and what could be more human than that?”
—Hilary Leichter, BOMB

“Wise, lyrical, and unwaveringly original . . . A tender coming-of-age story, an imaginative thought experiment, and a moving depiction of the pain and power that come with being an outsider.”
—Rachel Simon, Shondaland

“Gorgeous . . . Surely one of the most charming novels I’ve ever read.”
—Thomas Morris, Electric Literature

“Poignant and funny.”
—Sophia June, Nylon

“Bertino casts her wry and empathetic eye on the wider universe . . . render[ing]the world in new and unexpected ways.”
—Jennifer Bort Yacovissi, Washington Independent Review of Books

“[An] excavation of the strange and wonderful and heart-wrenching realities of what it means to be alive down here on Earth . . . In Beautyland, that which is wonky and uncanny reveals itself in the familiar details of everyday life . . . This is where the sorcery lives . . . When Bertino writes of magic, of science fiction, of the surreal, she is writing of reality.”
—Madison Ford, Brooklyn Rail

“An astonishing book about what it means to be human (and alien) . . . Your heart needs it. Trust me.”
—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk (on Instagram)

“Poignant, bracing . . . [Its] playfulness reveals possibilities and perspectives that might be lost in a novel bound by fact-checked 21st century reality.”
—Lauren LeBlanc, Los Angeles Times

“A singular novel with a singular protagonist who has a singular view of the world . . . Wonderfully quirky, funny, bittersweet. . . A very funny and empathetic book that unravels the contradictions, complexities, and weirdness of this thing we call life.”
—Ian Mond, Locus Magazine

“A delightful but heart-wrenching story of womanhood, differentness, and trying to feel less alone.”
—Steph Opitz, The Saturday Evening Post

“Adina’s alien status might just be a metaphor, but the feelings of joy, pain, and loneliness that surround her as she moves through life as a human are as real as they get.”
—Sam Franzini, Our Culture

“Moving . . . Beautyland offers no easy conclusions . . . but it works with increasing strength as a portrait of the weirdly widespread alienation of the 21st century.”
—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review

“A compelling, touching story that weds Bertino’s masterful eye for the poignant detail of the everyday with her equally virtuosic flair as a teller of the tallest kinds of tales—so tall, in this case, they are interplanetary. A heartbreaking book that staggers with both truth and beauty.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“The triumphant latest from Bertino offers a wryly comic critique of social conventions from the perspective of a woman who also happens to be an alien from another planet . . . Bertino nimbly portrays her protagonist’s alienhood as both metaphor and reality. The results are divine.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Expertly imagination-bending . . . With so much humor and heart, Bertino balances fantasy and hyperrealism, metaphor and fact . . . It’s like fiction was invented for Adina and her tale, which unspools so assuredly readers might mistake it for their own.”
—Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)

“Beautiful and refreshing and funny and heartbreaking, all at once.”
—Erin Lyndal Martin, BookBrowse

“This book is endlessly surprising on the sentence level, but also as a story, and also in its tenderness. We might all need the unexpected love and perspective of a child alien at this point in human history. Beautyland is beautiful and hilarious and transcendent. It honestly feels like a message from another planet. Marie-Helene Bertino is an otherworldly talent.”
—Tommy Orange, author of There, There

“In Beautyland, Marie-Helene Bertino’s Adina (maybe an alien, maybe a troubled human, always both) takes the tired old world and describes it so perfectly that we see it as if for the first time. Sparkling and alive, funny and magnificently true, this book woke me up. It made me weep with appreciation for the hard, strange, small-but-huge lives we lead. It made me fall back in love with this universe.”
—Ramona Ausubel, author of The Last Animal

Beautyland is both an otherworldly and completely human look into one girl’s life, written in concise, lyrical prose. It is richly allusive, funny, and hypersmart. Marie-Helene Bertino has knocked it out of the park with this one. I loved it.”
—Brandon Hobson, author of The Removed

“Marie-Helene Bertino’s delicious, uncanny vision throughout Beautyland makes everything feel brand-new. The chapters are so propulsive one doesn’t even fully notice the way she’s subtly deconstructing the world. One page swiftly returns ubiquity to wonder, while the next reminds us that cruelty is a choice, that nothing is inevitable but death. It’s impossible for a book to feel this fun and this urgent. Beautyland is a miracle. I’ll be rereading it forever.”
—Kaveh Akbar, author of Martyr!

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