The Underworld

A Novel

Kevin Canty (Author, University of Montana in Missoula)


For readers of Russell Banks and Richard Ford, a novel about loss, love, and redemption following a catastrophe in a small mining town.

In The Underworld, Kevin Canty tells a story inspired by the facts of a disastrous fire that took place in an isolated silver mining town in Idaho in the 1970s, in which almost everyone in town lost a friend, a lover, a brother, or a husband. The Underworld imagines the fates of a handful of fictional survivors and their loved ones—Jordan, a young widow with twin children; David, a college student trying to make a life for himself in another town; Lionel, a lifelong hard-rock miner—as they struggle to come to terms with the loss. It’s a tough, hard-working, hard-drinking town, a town of whores and priests and bar fights, but nobody’s tough enough to get through this undamaged. A powerful and unforgettable tale about small-town lives and the healing power of love in the midst of suffering.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • March 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-29305-0
  • 5.9 × 8.6 in / 256 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“Any writer will admire and envy his deft management of a range of characters and storylines… Any reader will empathize with his sometimes flawed, sometimes valiant people, as they wrestle with the perplexities of social class, family, and love.” — David Gates

“Canty writes with uncanny insight into the unspeakable beauty of life itself.” — Brad Watson

“A timely reminder of the tremendously complicated questions communities in the American West face. And faced. And will face. These are superbly drawn people in an impeccably told tale, a perfect storm and novel.” — Antonya Nelson

The Underworld pierces with busted hearts, broken families, and the gristly days of work and drink that bind them. A lovely, melodic, and unsparing look at small-town life in the West.” — Deborah Reed

“Epic and intimate, this exquisitely sculpted novel is haunted by collective grief—not only the soul-damage it inflicts on a place but also the way it can lead us to unexpected redemption and new kinds of love.” — Dean Bakopoulos

“[Canty] is one of my favorite contemporary writers because of his amazing gift for character and image… The Underworld is among his best work. Brutal and delicate, hilarious and totally heartbreaking. Like Charon, Canty makes a great ferryman into uncharted territory.” — Dan Chaon

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