Visa for Avalon
In this chilling dystopian novel, five men and women attempt to emigrate to “Avalon” after the Movement threatens the liberty and comforts they have taken for granted. Visa for Avalon takes place in an unnamed country and an unnamed time. As ordinary life comes to a standstill, escape is the only hope. But is Avalon truly the safe haven that it is rumored to be? A question readers must answer themselves.
Taught in secondary schools such as Deerfield Academy (MA), as an alternative to George Orwell’s 1984.
Comments & Reviews
"Visa for Avalon is a testament to the power of fiction. It illuminates the truth at the heart of what is commonly called reality. Avalon is a mythological location and the story is an allegory — but the characters, scenes, and events are so powerfully portrayed that they become as vivid and tangible to the reader as any real life experience. This account of lives transformed and ruined by the triumph of a totalitarian rule is a timely reminder of how moral and intellectual laziness and apathy can pave the road to the reign of terror brought on by such a system." — Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran
"This subtly chilling novel is not easily laid down. With brilliant economy and suspense, it depicts a fascist movement transforming the lives of ordinary people who merely wanted to be let alone. Prescient as Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Visa for Avalon could hardly be more timely here and now." — Adrienne Rich
"Visa for Avalon is a visionary and haunting novel. Bryher wrote this book forty years ago, but it speaks directly to the politics of today. It's a warning against apathy and should be read by anyone who's worried about civil rights." — Grace Paley
"Visa for Avalon is a stark reminder of all that we stand to lose if we don't protect our civil liberties. Thank you, Paris Press, for bringing this long-neglected novel back into print. We need it today." — Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
“The novella-length fiction Visa for Avalon by the writer who called herself Bryher was first published in 1965 and was reissued by the Paris Press in 2004, before the US presidential election of that year. Since it is set in the future — a future in which violent mass movements are causing uproar and a controlling government is restricting the freedom of ordinary citizens — it was seen by both its publisher, Jan Freeman, and by its introducer, Susan McCabe, as a book with a lot to say about the squeeze being put on liberal democracy by such draconian measures as the Patriot Act in the United States, and by similar tendencies elsewhere.… A suggestive and beguiling fiction from one of the twentieth century’s most interesting artistic figures. Paris Press should be thanked for republishing it....” — Margaret Atwood, The New York Review of Books
"Robinson has retired to the peaceful fishing village of Trelawney, where he lodges with Lilian, a widow much attached to her snug cottage. But there have been vague intimations of the growing strength of a tyrannical political force known as the Movement, and when the government abruptly requisitions her home, Lilian, along with many others, suddenly awakens to the fact that she has no place in this cruel new world. She and Robinson hastily seek permission to immigrate to the distant land of Avalon, but it may be too late. So begins this tautly constructed, chillingly dramatic, and profoundly resonant novel of warning. When it was first published in 1965, British-born and Switzerland-based Bryher (1894–1983) was a popular historical novelist, but her work has long been out of print, and her fascinating life — was also a pioneering publisher and philanthropist who helped dozens of Jewish and German intellectuals escape Nazi persecution — has nearly been forgotten. This is an inspired and timely resurrection of an incisive and provocative fable of the high cost of apathy and the insidiousness of fascism, an intriguing progenitor to Philip Roth’s The Plot against America [BKL Ag 04], and readers will find the accompanying profile of Bryher equally compelling. YA/M: Bryher’s succinct and electrifying tale of people on the run (including a plucky young woman) from a totalitarian regime will captivate teens and serve as a catalyst for discussion." — Donna Seaman, Booklist Starred Review
“Originally published in 1965, Visa for Avalon is something between an allegory and a novella…. Stylistically, [Visa for] Avalon is gently charming — think Sarah Orne Jewett, with touches of Kafka and H. G. Wells and the simple lyricism of Bryher's prose matches the plain decency of her characters, all of whom seem plausibly to have free will and a willingness to help others. When was the last time you read a novel where this was the case? But Bryher is neither sentimental nor naïve…. Bryher's novel was timely in the cold war years when she wrote it, and it is timely now.” — Alicia Ostriker, Women's Review of Books