The Dispossessed

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Fiction - 400 pages

One of The Atlantic’s Great American Novels

“One of the greats. . . . Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon.” —Stephen King

“Engrossing . . . Ursula Le Guin is more than just a writer of adult fantasy and science fiction . . . she is a philosopher; an explorer in the landscapes of the mind.” — Cincinnati Enquirer

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hugo, Locus, and Nebula Award–winning classic, a profound and thoughtful tale of anarchism and capitalism, individualism and collectivism, and one ambitious man’s quest to bridge the ideological chasm separating two worlds.

The Dispossessed is the spellbinding story of anarchist Shevek, the “galactically famous scientist,” who single-handedly attempts to reunite two planets cut off from each other by centuries of distrust.

Anarres, Shevek’s homeland, is a bleak moon settled by an anarchic utopian civilization, where there is no government, and everyone, at least nominally, is a revolutionary. It has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—defined by warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to unify the two civilizations. In the face of great hostility, outright threats, and the pain of separation from his family, he makes an unprecedented trip to Urras. Greater than any concern for his own wellbeing is the belief that the walls of hatred, distrust, and philosophic division between his planet and the rest of the civilized universe must be torn down. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and explore differences in customs and cultures, determined to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.

To visit Urras—to learn, to teach, to share—will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. Almost immediately upon his arrival, he finds not the egotistical philistines he expected, but an intelligent, complex people who warmly welcome him. But soon the ambitious scientist and his gift is seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.

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About the author (2009)

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (1929-2018) was a celebrated author whose body of work includes twenty-three novels, twelve volumes of short stories, eleven volumes of poetry, thirteen children’s books, five essay collections, and four works of translation. The breadth and imagination of her work earned her six Nebula Awards, seven Hugo Awards, and SFWA’s Grand Master, along with the PEN/Malamud and many other awards. In 2014 she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and in 2016 she joined the short list of authors to be published in their lifetimes by the Library of America.

KAREN JOY FOWLER is the author of six novels and four short story collections, including We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and Black Glass. She is the winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, and has won numerous Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.