Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This Book is the very definition of a little gem. Mararet Renkl grew up in Alabama, deeply rooted in both her extended family and the surrounding natural landscape, and this book is both a memoir and a collection of  of musings about the natural world. Renkl writes so beautifully about her experiences with love, grief and her family history, and deftly demonstrates how the minor miracles happening outside her window—with birds, animals and flowers—mirror so much about the human condition. Just lovely, in every sense of the world

— Erika

July 2019 Indie Next List

“Margaret Renkl feels the lives and struggles of each creature that enters her yard as keenly as she feels the paths followed by her mother, grandmother, her people. Learning to accept the sometimes harsh, always lush natural world may crack open a window to acceptance of our own losses. In Late Migrations, we welcome new life, mourn its passing, and honor it along the way.”
— Kat Baird, The Book Bin (Corvallis), Corvallis, OR


Named a "Best Book of the Year" by New Statesman, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, and Washington Independent Review of Books

Southern Book Prize Finalist

From New York Times contributing opinion writer Margaret Renkl comes an unusual, captivating portrait of a family--and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world.

Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents--her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father--and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child's transition to caregiver.

And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds--the natural one and our own--"the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love's own twin."

Gorgeously illustrated by the author's brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut.

About the Author

Margaret Renkl is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where her essays appear weekly. Her work has also appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Proximity, and River Teeth, among others. She was the founding editor of Chapter 16, the daily literary publication of Humanities Tennessee, and is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Carolina. She lives in Nashville.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781571313836
ISBN-10: 1571313834
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication Date: March 30th, 2021
Pages: 248
Language: English