By Manon Steffan Ros
Adapted to English by the author
The post-apocalyptic story that captured the heart of Wales gets to the heart of the mother-son relationship, the making of myth, and the humanity within us all.
Publication Date: November 2, 2021
Prize-winner in three categories of the 2019 Wales Book of the Year Award, The Blue Book of Nebo paints a spellbinding and eerie picture of society’s collapse, and the relationships that persist after everything as we know it disappears. After nuclear disaster, Rowenna and her young son are among the rare survivors in rural north-west Wales. Left alone in their isolated hillside cottage, after others have died or abandoned the towns and villages, they must learn new skills in order to remain alive. With no electricity or modern technology they must return to the old ways of living off the land, developing new personal resources.
While they become more skilled and stronger, the relationship between mother and son changes in subtle ways, as Dylan must take on adult responsibilities, especially once his baby sister arrives. Despite their close understanding, mother and son have their own secrets, which emerge as in turn they jot down their thoughts and memories in a found notebook. As each reflects on their old life and the events since the disaster which has brought normal, twenty-first century life to an end, The Blue Book of Nebo becomes a collective confidante, representing the future of their people and a new history to live by.
In this prize-winning and best-selling new novel, Manon Steffan Ros not only explores the human capacity to find new strengths when faced with the need to survive, but also the structures and norms of the contemporary world.
Manon Steffan Ros was born in Rhiwlas, Snowdonia. After leaving school, she worked as an actress becoming a writer. Her first novel for adults Fel Aderyn, reached the shortlist for wales Book of the Year and her novel Blasu won the Fiction Prize of the 2013 Wales Book of the Year. Ros translated Blasu into English with the title The Seasoning and was published by Honno in 2015.
As well as her books for adults, Ros has found great acclaim in her children’s writing. She has won the prestigious Tir Na N-Og prize for Welsh children’s literature four times, with her novels Trwy’r Tonnau (2010), Prism (2012), Pluen (2017) and most recently Fi a Joe Allen (2019).
The Blue Book of Nebo won the Prose Medal at the 2018 Eisteddfod and won the triple crown of prizes at the 2019 Wales Book of the Year Award: the Aberystwyth University Fiction Award, the Golwg360 Barn y Bobl (People's Choice Award) and the Welsh-language Overall Winner.
She has won the drama prize at the Eisteddfod twice in 2005 and 2006, and her play, “Mwgsi,” won a National Theatre Wales award in 2018. She lives in Tywyn, Meirionnydd with her sons.
Winner of the 2018 National Eisteddfod Prose Medal
Winner of the 2019 Llyfr y Flwyddyn (Wales book of the year)
Winner of three categories at the 2019 Wales Book of the Year Awards: the Aberystwyth University Fiction Award, the Golwg360 Barn y Bobl (People’s Choice Award), and the Welsh-language Overall Winner
One of The Millions' Most Anticipated: Second Half of 2021
One of World Literature Today's 100 Notable Translations of 2021
"Reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Manon Steffan Ros’s The Blue Book of Nebo is an elegant, elegiac novel that tempers the enormity of nuclear Armageddon with personal, intimate relationships...The Blue Book of Nebo brilliantly highlights how Welsh as a disappearing language becomes synonymous with vanishing civilization. A starkness prevails in everyday facts, and death is unavoidable, but within these harrowing confines of life and language, hope survives in all the silent spaces." —Starred review, Foreword Review
“As 2021 draws to a close, a year stranger than most of us thought it would be, Ros’s quiet faith in quiet things, like cooking and mending, has appeal.” —Bethanne Patrick, "The Best Books of 2021 You May Have Missed," Literary Hub
“Set in North Wales following a nuclear explosion, The Blue Book of Nebo is surprisingly different from most post-apocalytpic novels. It’s entrancing and beguiling and full of life. Together Dylan and his mother Rowenna tell a wonderful and gripping story.” —Margot Livesey
"In modern Wales, a nuclear disaster brings about the End—a young mother and son are among the only survivors. Isolated in the countryside, they continue living in their house without electricity or running water, taking supplies from other homes as needs arise, learning to self-sustain. Through the eyes of a curious child and a hardened adult, they chronicle their days in the Blue Book of Nebo, a found notebook. As they struggle to live with the effects of the disaster, they also work to learn and preserve the Welsh language among only animal omens. This short, searing tale has arrived in English at an eerily relevant time." —Mary Wahlmeier Bracciano, Assistant Inventory Manager, The Raven Book Store
“[T]he book has resonated across Wales and, increasingly, the world; its dark, moving account of the resourcefulness of hope and love has propelled the book to a special place in contemporary Welsh writing.” —Casi Dylan, Words Without Borders
“The novel is a reflection on parenthood, consumerism, faith, language, and class, seen through the cynical eyes of the mother and the more hopeful outlook of her son. Both are careful to preserve their own truths and protect each other from hurt. The result is ‘A curiously sweet-tempered novel that finds the upside of global catastrophe.’”—Megan Farr, World Kid Lit
"[A] spare and intimate story of a family surviving a near-future global apocalypse...In a time rife with and ripe for stories of the end, this one stands out." —Publishers Weekly
“In the wake of disaster, life can take on a terrible, beautiful clarity, life and language pared to the bone. Manon Steffan Ros captures this clarity with precision and power in The Blue Book of Nebo, and reminds us that simplicity doesn't erase mystery and secrets, and in fact can amplify them. A profound and timely meditation on what is left and what is gained when the rest of the world falls away.” —Gayle Brandeis