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Samantha Hunt Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Seas (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Invention of Everything Else (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mr. Splitfoot (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

The Dark Dark (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Samantha Hunt is an American bestselling author known for writing literature and fiction. She was born in Pound Ridge, New York to an editor and painter and was the last born of six siblings. Hunt was brought up in an 18th-century house that was full of books, both bad and good ones. While it was not haunted in the classic sense of the word, she asserts that she found it haunting. In 1989 she went to college at the University of Vermont where she studied geology, printmaking, and literature. She would then proceed to Warren Wilson College from where she got her MFA before moving to New York City in 1999. While she was working to become a professional author she did a stint in an envelope making factory.

Hunt published her first novel “The Seas” in 2004, which went on to win the “5 Under 35” prize by the National Book Foundation in 2004. She was the winner for the Bard Fiction Prize and a finalist for the Orange Prize for the novel “The Invention of Everything Else” a historical fiction about the inventor Nikola Tesla. “Mr. Splitfoot” which he published in 2016 went on to become an IndieNext Pick while “The Dark Dark,” a short story collection was named a Best Book of the year by the likes of The Chicago Review of Books, Vogue, and NPR among others. Her works have been featured in the likes of A Public Space, The New Yorker, Tin House, The New York Times Magazine and McSweeney’s. She currently resides in upstate New York.

Hunt writes her novels in all manner of genres from historical fiction to whimsical romance and literary fiction. In her novels such as “Mr. Splitfoot,” “The Seas,” and “The Dark Dark” she spins tales drawn from fairytales and myths, which she relates to issues such as gender, motherhood and how women perceive themselves. Samantha Hunt has said that ever since she was young she was perplexed and tired of the language used around women such as the trope of the madwoman in the attic, pregnancy as disease and hysterical women. As she grew up, she would get some of those sicknesses and illnesses ascribed to her and she never did like it. With the historical novel “The Invention of Everything Else,” Hunt has asserted that she was trying to say there is something more to life than gender identities. Given her love for myths and fairy tales, she says that Nikola Tesla’s innovations came to him in the form of visions with some of them never seeing the light of day while some would become manifest and physical. As such, The historical fiction helps adults explain the world just like the fairy tales and stories help us explain the world through stories such as those of mermaids or a tortoise that carry the Earth on their backs. Something is always true in the metaphysics of the story even if it is imagined or it is just felt and Tesla’s fictional relationship with his chambermaid is a perfect example of this.

Samantha Hunt’s novel “The Seas” is not simply a mermaid story but a story of a woman looking for connection, love, and meaning in a lonely world. She is determined to find that meaning using whatever means even if it means constructing it herself. It is the illumination of a story from various angles that include the psychological and the fantastical. In “The Invention of Everything” Samantha Hunt blends fiction and fact so well that is almost impossible to discern between the two. She takes a nonlinear approach to storytelling telling of Tesla’s childhood experiences up to the time of his death. Most of the novel though focuses on his final days when he resided in the Hotel New Yorker and his interactions with Louisa, a fictional chambermaid that is intrigued by the mysteries she found in his hotel room. “Mr. Splitfoot” is a good cult-and-communes novel that harks back to the themes of belonging, origin stories, family, search for meaning and where we go when we die. The novel has cults within cults and almost all of its characters are on a quest for meaning which results in a tangled web of quests and motivations.

Samantha’s debut novel “The Seas” is the story of a girl that had been waiting for more than a decade for her father that had walked into the sea to come back home. Life in her small town is bleak and depressing and her mother is bored watching the sea every day hoping for her husband to reappear. Her grandfather is busy typesetting dictionaries though it is clear to all that nothing will ever be printed. Instead of resigning herself to her fate as a woman and accepting that her father would not be coming back, she has convinced herself that she is a mermaid. She escapes the boring life in the small coastal town by reenacting a fantastic mermaid myth. When she is not working as chambermaid at rundown hotels or fantasizing about becoming a scientist, she spends time with a drinker and sailor named Jude. She has hopelessly fallen in love with the man who is in some ways similar to her father even if he is twice her age. She knows about Jude’s secret and is looking forward to its revelation as it will help her fulfill her sense of belonging and identity. The story is part coming of age and part modern gothic as it explores the edges of reality and wishful thinking, science and literature and the boundary between land and sea.

Hunt’s “The Invention of Everything” is a novel about the last days of the inventor of alternating current (AC). He is painted as a capitalistic, conforming and rigid person as compared to his much better-known nemesis Thomas Edison. It is a novel about imagining the unimaginable, creativity and artistic expression, a novel that is a fictional biography as much as it is about creative ideas. Tesla lives in the New Yorker Hotel in 1943 all alone with his thoughts, his journal, and his pigeons. He meets a learned chambermaid named Louisa who happens to share his passion for pigeons and they develop something of a compassionate, intellectual and fragile relationship. As the story is told, more mysteries are unearthed with time seemingly getting charged as if by electricity. Hunt writes a sensuous story that celebrates the bright magic of nature and science by combining aspects of science fiction, science, psychology, and philosophy. The story honors the life force of life by looking at the humanistic as well as the fairy tale and mythical side that is inside even the best minds such as Nikola Tesla.

“Mr. Splitfoot” is the story of two teenagers Nat and Ruth who find themselves stuck in a cult in upstate New York. They have been living there for years but now wonder what will happen to them when they turn 18 and are able to make their decisions on whether they can leave to stay. Ruth believes that she may have to take desperate measures to ensure that they have a future outside the cult. Things start looking up when they meet Mr. Bell a traveling conman, who suggests that they can make some money off of Nat’s reputation for speaking to the dead. Nat has only ever used her purported gift to entertain and scare her fellow foster kids. Their new friend Mr. Bell has a queer background as the son of the charismatic leader of an apocalyptic cult. Could it be that the commonality of experience is drawing him to Nat and Ruth or could he have a different agenda? There is a supernatural and ghostly undertone to the entire story as an apocalyptic cult leader and a religious fanatic clash.

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