In the not-too-distant future, thirty-seven-year-old Sandy lives a challenging and unfamiliar life. She survives by fishing, farming, and beekeeping on an isolated island with her partner, Marvin, and friend, Thomson. When the footprints of a thieving child start appearing in their garden, the family must come together to protect both the child and their fragile community.
In the face of scarcity, Sandy still dreams of being a mother. The thought of a child compels her to revisit her earlier life in a city plagued by power outages, unemployment, and protests. There she met Marvin and joined his violent cause, initiating a chain of events that led to tragic and life-altering consequences.
A powerful debut novel, Swarm is about persevering in a time of shrinking options, and coming to terms with regrettable choices.
Lauren Carter is an award-winning poet and former Ontarian living in St. Andrews, Manitoba. Her debut poetry collection, Lichen Bright, was long-listed for the ReLit Award and an earlier poem, "Island Clearances," won the ROOM 2014 poetry contest. Her first novel, Swarm was voted onto the CBC Canada Reads long list and her prose has been nominated and long-listed for various awards and been anthologized in Best Canadian Stories. Following Sea is Carter's second collection of poetry.
In Swarm, Lauren Carter imagines with brave sensitivity a dystopian world only one turn of the dial from our own. Fleeing a decayed city, her characters struggle to survive in the rural wild—yet it is the fundamental human emotions of love and longing and the spectre of loss that shape their lives and animate this haunting novel. —Catherine Bush, author of Accusation and The Rules of Engagement
"The language is beautiful and emotional . . . " —Publishers Weekly
You wake up one morning and the world has changed but not in a good way. Lauren Carter’s enthralling elegiac tale of what happens when the oil disappears is tender and terrifying and absolutely believable. In the same vein as Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro’s speculative fiction, Swarm belongs to that illustrious tradition of combining what is human and familiar with life-changing circumstances. —Susan Swan, author of The Wives of Bath and The Western Light
"Though it is future scenarios that have pushed these characters to act, the questions of this novel are the questions of our time. " —The Winnipeg Review
". . . one of the more realistic recent imaginings of the shape of things to come. " —Toronto Star
Imbued with dark lyricism and a disturbingly credible view of the end of the world, Carter’s debut sifts through the lives of people existing on an isolated island, grappling just to survive a time of enormous social upheaval and change. ..A somberly melodic, literary foray. —Booklist
"This is one of the most memorable manuscripts I’ve read in a long time. I didn’t even think I’d like it, as I’m not keen on ‘futuristic’ or ‘dystopian’ stories. But, because the world is much like ours is now, and could be our world soon, it didn’t feel like a robots-gone-bad kind of future. The characters are people we know and just find themselves in a situation unfamiliar to them (and to us). And how they make it work, how they not only survive but continue to build community and live good lives is what got me. Lauren Carter is a writer to watch and I’m very privileged to have worked with her on this book. " —Ruth Linka, GoodReads review
"Carter’s portrait of our foreseeable future is possible, even likely. She does not stray into the fantastic or apocalyptic, but supposes that altruism is foolish in a dark time, even deadly. " —Quill & Quire
"The ambitious structure is effective in keeping up the pace of the novel, as well as in helping the reader understand how everything fell apart, and how all of those small collapses influence the characters’ present lives. This novel is terrifying because of how realistically Carter has built this dystopian world; it could very easily become our world in the near future. " —Coastal Spectator
"Carter’s dystopia stands out for its grimy grey-toned account of an incremental, listless social decline. It’s not a vision of a new world violently warped out of the old one into an outlandish nightmare—broken Statues of Liberty jutting out of the beach. Instead, it’s a plausible prognostication of how our world could be gradually unraveled and carted away, one looted run of household copper wire at a time. " —The Rusty Toque
"The tone is prophetic, and not just because it’s a retrospective narrative. The context of the story is obviously relevant for today: Carter is telling us that if we continue to be dependent on oil, our city may end up like Sandy’s; we may one day soon have no resources left with which to retain a civilized society. " —The Manitoban