Spotlight on “Clear” by Carys Davies

by LitStack Editor

In “Clear,” a minister is dispatched to a remote island off of Scotland to “clear” the last remaining inhabitant, who has no intention of leaving—an unforgettable tale of resilience, change, and hope.

Clear and author Carys Davies

About Clear

John, an impoverished Scottish minister, has accepted a job evicting the lone remaining occupant of an island north of Scotland—Ivar, who has been living alone for decades, with only the animals and the sea for company. Though his wife, Mary, has serious misgivings about the errand, he decides to go anyway, setting in motion a chain of events that neither he nor Mary could have predicted.

Shortly after John reaches the island, he falls down a cliff and is found, unconscious and badly injured, by Ivar who takes him home and tends to his wounds. The two men do not speak a common language, but as John builds a dictionary of Ivar’s world, they learn to communicate and, as Ivar sees himself for the first time in decades reflected through the eyes of another person, they build a fragile, unusual connection.

Unfolding in the 1840s in the final stages of the infamous Scottish Clearances—which saw whole communities of the rural poor driven off the land in a relentless program of forced evictions—this singular, beautiful, deeply surprising novel explores the differences and connections between us, the way history shapes our deepest convictions, and how the human spirit can survive despite all odds. Moving and unpredictable, sensitive and spellbinding, Clear is a profound and pleasurable read.

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Scribner
ISBN13: 9781668030660
Publication Date: April 2, 2024


Praise for Clear

“It’s hard to overstate how deftly and viscerally Davies’s prose conveys this world. We see and hear and smell it, shiver with it.”—Joan Frank for The Washington Post, author of Late Work and Juniper Street

“A love letter to the scorching power of language, a power that Davies has long understood. She writes with amazing economy: in a few words she can summon worlds… Davies is a writer of immense talent and deep humanity, capable of balancing devastating audacity with equally devastating restraint.”—The Guardian

“In sparse but often gorgeous prose, Clear chronicles the surprising bond that develops between these two men, first through Ivar’s tender ministrations to the injured stranger…Ms. Davies manages to pack a great deal of power into her compact tale.”—The Wall Street Journal

“There is great pleasure to be found of Davies’s clear and calm prose, her wry asides and deep love of language, and in the book’s quiet optimism. It is a slim, masterfully carved gem of a story that you won’t easily forget: slip it into your pocket.”—Evening Standard

“Davies’ characteristically nimble evocation of place is in evidence throughout… Amid the barbarity of mass evictions, with all their modern resonances, Davies ultimately offers us a story that is hopeful and humane.”—Irish Times

“Another epic in miniature. Davies manages to pack in more drama and nuance into 160 pages than other authors manage in novels twice that length.”—The Spectator


“[A] gripping novel from Welsh novelist Carys Davis, Clear…feels a bit like a thriller set against a history lesson rendered fantastically vivid…raising questions of belonging, ownership, and how we forge the bonds between people and place that are really durable.”—Vogue

“The sheer beauty of Clear—with its perfect sentences, its austere tenderness, and its quiet sense of disquiet—feels timeless … A poignant, profound depiction of both solitude and connection. Carys Davies has written a masterful, discreetly sublime book.”—Hernan Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Trust and In the Distance

“This intriguing and inventive story escorts the reader to an unexpectedly joyous ending that hints at our contemporary interest in new ideas of what a family might be. The writing style is one of clarity and reserved sensibility punctuated with an end-game needle jab. Not to be missed.”—Annie Proulx, author of Barkskins

“Clear is a compact, taut and brilliant novel with an ingenious premise: one man is sent to evict another from his land, but suddenly requires the second man’s aid. Everything gets more complicated from there. The book is about belonging, a dying language, secrets, and a pistol in a box. I loved every page.”—Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See and Cloud Cuckoo Land

“Clear is a love letter to a vanished way of life, to a landscape, and to human relationships. Captivating, tender, and satisfying, this is a novel to be savored.”—Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange and The Memory of Animals

“An exquisite, hopeful masterpiece … my favorite book of 2024 and probably many more years to come.”—Rachel Joyce, author of Miss Benson’s Beetle and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

About Carys Davies, Author of Clear


Carys Davies’s debut novel West was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, runner-up for the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize, and winner of the Wales Book of the Year for Fiction. She is also the author of The Mission House, which was The Sunday Times (London) 2020 Novel of the Year, and two collections of short stories, Some New Ambush and The Redemption of Galen Pike, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize.

Her other awards include the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Prize, the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Short Story Award, and a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Born in Wales, she lived and worked for twelve years in New York and Chicago, and now lives in Edinburgh. Clear is her most recent novel.

You can find and follow Carys Davies on her website.

Titles by Carys Davies


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