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My Volcano

My Volcano

By John Elizabeth Stintzi
Categories: LGBTQ+, Trans Literature, Fiction
Paperback : 9781551528731, 352 pages, 2022


A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of the Year

The brilliant new novel from the fiercely talented author of Vanishing Monuments, shortlisted for the Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

On the morning of June 2, 2016, a jogger in Central Park notices a mass of stone in the centre of the reservoir, a mass that - three weeks later - will have grown into an active stratovolcano nearly two and a half miles tall. This inexplicable event seems to coincide with an escalation of strange phenomena happening around the world.

For readers of Karen Tei Yamashita and Haruki Murakami and fans of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Olga Tokarczuk's Flights, My Volcano sets the mythic and absurd against the starkly realistic, attempting to portray what it feels like to live in a burning world stricken numb.

My Volcano is a pre-apocalyptic vision following a global and diverse cast of characters, each experiencing private and collective eruptions: an eight-year-old boy in Mexico City finds himself 500 years in the past, where he lives through the fall of the Aztec Empire; a folktale scholar in Tokyo studies a story with indeterminate origins about a woman coming down a mountain to destroy villages and towns; a white trans writer living in Jersey City struggles to write a sci-fi novel about a thriving civilization on an impossible planet; a nurse with Doctors without Borders works with Syrian refugees in Greece as she tries to grapple with the trauma of surviving an American bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan; a nomadic herder in Mongolia is stung by a bee and finds himself transformed into a green, thorned, flowering creature that aims to cleanse the world’s most polluted places on its path toward assimilating every living thing on Earth into its consciousness.

With audacious structure and poetic prose, My Volcano is an electrifying tapestry on fire.


With the panoramic scope and astute sharpness of Samanta Schweblin's Little Eyes and the eerie chill of Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy, John Elizabeth Stintzi's My Volcano immediately grabs you by the shirt and doesn't let you go. Structured like a spiral moving through time and space, and deftly mixing history and myth and vision with poetic prose, this dread-inducing book will keep you up at night until you get to its last devastating, but ultimately, I think, hopeful line. -Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

My Volcano is a fast-paced, gripping, singular novel that belongs to the new wave of eco-horror yielding to no conventions. -Fernando A. Flores, author of Tears of the Trufflepig

A vibrant ecosystem of a novel that deals honestly with the beauty and horror of human and ecological connectedness. -Kirkus Reviews

A fever dream that whirs together homicide statistics from 2016 with an array of outlandish science fiction tropes. An allegory about the mutability of all things. An unsettling meditation on the 21st century's strange reality. An apocalyptic phantasmagoria where bizarre kaiju roam the lands and wreak havoc. A lyrical treatise on volcanoes as metaphors. A wild ride. -Toronto Star

A fiery, transcendent vision of the future ... A brilliant achievement. -Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

Dazzling ... A phantasmagoria of barely controlled chaos. -Literary Review of Canada

There is nothing I can write about this book that will capture the whole of it. It is a piece of surreal and beautiful art that defines categorization and explanation ... Somehow, in writing about giant bugs and time travel and weird escape rooms and magical bees, Stintzi has hit on some essential truth about what it feels like to be a human on this bizarre, heartbreaking, ever-changing, impossible planet. -Book Riot

My Volcano is a gorgeous unpacking of what it means to live as the world changes around us in ways we don't always understand. -Buzzfeed News

A kaleidoscopic, contemporary folktale with added acerbic juice, like when Dylan went electric. Stintzi somehow funnels the tumultuous present into a sprawling novel of collision and connection that’s both timely and timeless. This is very weird shit indeed. -Hazel Jane Plante, author of Little Blue Encyclopedia (For Vivian)