Fascinated by caves and digging holes since childhood, Manfred discovers a path through to another realm via a Neolithic copper mine at Mount Gabriel in Schull, Ireland. The world of Hollow Earth, while no Utopia, is a sophisticated civilisation. Its genderless inhabitants are respectful of their environment, religious and cultural differences are accommodated without engendering hate or suspicion, and grain, not missile silos are built. Yet Ari and Zest accompany Manfred back to the surface world. ‘Come with me and see my world.’
So begins an extraordinary adventure in which the three wander the Earth like Virgil’s Aeneas, Ari and Zest seeking re-entry to their own world. The Hollow Earthers are shocked at the cruelty and lies of the surface world, the dieback spreading through the forests. Yet they are seduced by the world’s temptations.
Kinsella’s parable draws on a rich tradition of Hollow Earth literature and science fiction including Bradshaw’s The Goddess of Atavatabar (1892). With strange beauty, its alluring trajectory vividly captures our 21st-century world in crisis. Like Manfred, we are often blindly complicit in the earth’s downfall. ‘Happiness is under our feet.’ sings the narrator in this passionate, layered and compelling new novel.
‘Combining a twenty-first century sense of planetary peril with a 1970s funkadelic vibe, Hollow Earth reaches to the extremes of our collective breath, its alpha and omega … This is a novel of exacting self-scrutiny which also manages to be outrageous fun’ Nicholas Birns