Funny, poignant, and galvanizing by turns, Josephine Wilson’s award-winning novel explores many kinds of extinction—natural, racial, national, and personal—and what we might do to prevent them.
Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, has quarantined himself in a place he hates: a retirement village. His headstrong wife Martha, adored by all, is dead. His adopted daughter Caroline has cut ties, and his son Callum is lost to him in his own way. And though Frederick knows, logically, that a structural engineer can devise a bridge for any situation, somehow his own troubled family—fractured by years of secrets and lies—is always just out of his reach.
When a series of unfortunate incidents brings him and his spirited next-door neighbor Jan together, Frederick gets a chance to build something new in the life he has left. At the age of 69, he has to confront his most complex emotional relationships and the haunting questions he’s avoided all his life. Unbeknownst to him, Caroline—on her own journey of cultural reckoning—is doing the same. As father and daughter fight in their own ways to save what’s lost, they might finally find a way toward each other.
A masterful portrait of a man caught by history, and a sweeping meditation on the meaning of family, love, survival, and identity, Extinctions asks an urgent question: can we find the courage to change?