On Our Shelves Now
From the Ernest J. Gaines Award-winning author of Everywhere You Don't Belong, a touching, timely novel—called a "tour de force" by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Libertie) and "wry and astonishing" by Publishers Weekly—about an attempt to found an underground utopia and the interwoven stories of those drawn to it.
A New York Times Notable Book for 2023
**Included in Fall Preview & Most-Anticipated Lists: New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Vulture.com, Esquire.com, ELLE.com, The Millions, and Lit Hub**
An abandoned restaurant on a hill off the highway in Western Massachusetts doesn't look like much. But to Rio, a young Black woman bereft after the loss of her newborn child, this hill becomes more than a safe haven—it becomes a place to start over. She convinces her husband to help her construct a society underground, somewhere safe, somewhere everyone can feel loved, wanted, and accepted, where the children learn actual history, where everyone has an equal shot.
She locates a Benefactor and soon their utopia begins to take shape. Two unhoused men hear about it and immediately begin their journey by bus from Chicago to get there. A young and disillusioned journalist stumbles upon it and wants in. And a former soccer player, having lost his footing in society, is persuaded to check it out too. But no matter how much these people all yearn for meaning and a sanctuary from the existential dread of life above the surface, what happens if this new society can't actually work? What then?
From one of the most exciting new literary voices out there, The New Naturals is fresh and deeply perceptive, capturing the absurdity of life in the 21st century, for readers of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House. In this remarkable feat of imagination, Bump shows us that, ultimately, it is our love for and connection to each other that will save us.
About the Author
Gabriel Bump grew up in South Shore, Chicago. He received his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His debut novel, Everywhere You Don't Belong, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2020 and has won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Fiction, the Heartland Booksellers Award for Fiction, and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association's First Novelist Award. Bump teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Included in Fall Preview & Most-Anticipated Lists: New York Times, Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Esquire Vulture.com, ELLE.com, W Magazine, The Millions, Goodreads, and Lit Hub
"A Blithedale Romance for the 21st century, only less naive and more complex. Race, class and gender collide in all the ways they do in the so-called real world. Bump's prose is fresh and frequently surprising. This is funny, sad, sad-funny and funny-sad and just plain smart."—Percival Everett, author of Dr. No
“A booming talent whose latest reads like Ann Patchett shot through Percival Everett.”—Chicago Tribune
“Given the size of the thing it indicts — not only America, but the entirety of modern society — it’s a somewhat spectacular achievement that Gabriel Bump’s second novel, The New Naturals, feels as fun as it does. …sharp, witty… Bump has a real talent for describing how it feels to feel too much…[he] is an excellent writer”—New York Times Book Review
“The Best Books of Fall 2023” – “Imaginative… Keenly observed and darkly funny, The New Naturals is a compelling portrait of what happens when our hopes collide with our limitations.”—Esquire
"Wry and astonishing … Brisk dialogue and flashes of mordant humor pay off, and Bump cannily grapples with such issues as gentrification, microaggressions, and environmental racism. This is a scalding study in human nature.”—Publishers Weekly
“Bump captures our contemporary condition with grace… [A] sharp, imaginative novel”—The Boston Globe
“The New Naturals is a tragicomedy for our times, exploring that age-old question of how to connect with our fellow human beings and build community, even as the world makes increasingly less sense. A tour-de-force, full of heart and asking the big questions about life and the mind.”—Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of Libertie
"The New Naturals explores how grief can become aspiration, how aspiration can become wildness. Bump writes so tenderly about the human error endemic to man-made things---community, partnership, love."
—Raven Leilani, author of Luster
“Gabriel Bump's brilliant and surprising novel The New Naturals takes us inside a utopian world and, even more deeply and wondrously, inside the souls of an impressive array of characters. Through them, Bump holds up a mirror to our own grief, longings, and rage in the face of a cruel, crumbling society. Intricate and intimate, Bump's prose is simply masterful.”—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
“A keenly observant work of literary fiction, revealing provocative insights into what happens when ideals, aspirations, and human fallibility collide. I was both gripped and hypnotized by Bump’s distinctive voice, so unique I couldn’t help but reread passages just to relive its poetic cadence. I flew through the pages. I fell in love with characters who not only shared my concerns but hopes and sympathies as well. THE NEW NATURALS is bold, funny, dark and masterful.”
—Oscar Hokeah, author of PEN/Hemingway Winner Calling for a Blanket Dance
“Gorgeous and lyrical… An effecting, experimental tale of race and reinvention”—Kirkus Reviews
“Our booksellers have already devoured it. Bump has a knack for writing stories about human connection that leave us feeling hopeful. This won't be one to miss.”—Epilogue Books (Chapel Hill, NC), USA Today
“[An] ambitious and fascinating premise.”—Literary Hub
“Innovative… Bump slyly evokes the messiness of building community... He never loses sight of his characters’ humanity, maintaining his and our empathy for even the most foolish seekers among us.”—Booklist
“Surprisingly tender. A tragicomic portrait of the longing people share for a better world, The New Naturals is a thought-provoking and head-spinning sophomore novel.”—Shelf Awareness
“In Gabriel Bump’s melodic story of attempting to heal, following the death of their newborn daughter, a pair of married academics builds an underground utopia.”—Vanity Fair
“Wry… A perceptive and timely story for readers of Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House, The New Naturals captures our humanity with candor and grace.”—B&N Reads
"For readers of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House, Bump’s (Everywhere You Don’t Belong) exciting new novel is about the search for love and connection in the 21st century."—PureWow.com
“Dazzling… Gabriel Bump’s second novel proves again that he is a writer to watch. …Bump's followup to Everywhere You Don't Belong reads like a dream.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“An underground utopia serves as the backdrop for this exciting new novel. …fast-paced…it's the urgency of the prose that propels the narrative forward, keeping you engaged and invested.”—PureWow.com
“A wryly funny take on the human condition.”—People
"Gabriel Bump showcases a cast of relatable and deeply human characters as they attempt to create a perfect society in an imperfect world."—Poured Over / Barnes & Noble