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March 2020| Fiction | 978-1-948814-16-4 | 342 pp | $18.95

by Susan M. Gaines



When Gabriel’s mother decides to repatriate to her native Uruguay after thirty years in California, he takes a break from his uninspiring desk job to accompany her. At first, Gabe observes his mother’s squabbling family in the same detached way he watches the new species of birds he encounters in the marsh on their neglected land—but when he falls in love with a local biologist, he is suddenly transformed from observer to the main character in his family’s transnational saga. As Gabe and Alejandra struggle to confront the environmental devastation of their twenty-first-century future, they find themselves mired in the mud of their parents'—and their countries'—Cold War–era past.




SUSAN M. GAINES is known for melding science and natural history into literary fiction. Her 2001 novel Carbon Dreams was an early contribution to the genres now variously known as cli-fi, eco-fiction, and lab-lit or science in fiction. Her novel Accidentals takes on both environmental and political themes, and her non-fiction book Echoes of Life combines literary prose and narrative in a scientific account of discoveries in the earth sciences. Raised in California, Gaines has spent much of her adult life in South America, where Accidentals is set, and in Europe, where she is a founding director of the Fiction Meets Science program at the University of Bremen.


Author Website



"Gaines’s melding of sensual landscapes with ruminations on political history and environmental devastation will be a treat for conservationists, and her critique of globalization and portrayal of sibling rivalry are particularly well rendered. Barbara Kingsolver fans will want to take a look."


“A rich portrait of a country and its people, relayed with detail and wonder, thanks to a naturalist’s eye.”

“Well-written novels that feature science (but aren’t science fiction) are few and far between, and this work is a welcome addition next to Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer or Flight Behavior.”


“Gaines’ novel is deeply researched, and the reader will walk away with an understanding of not only Uruguay’s repressive regimes, but also biomes, bird preservation, and more.” 


"[Gaines’s] elegant prose is so powerfully evocative that the landscape, the people and its birds bounced off the page, surrounding and immersing me in the unfolding story…. From its first sentence to its last, this book focuses on what we love—children, spouses, family, friends, nature, the environment, country—and the many ways that we show our love. Highly recommended."


"More than a nature novel: the characters are lovingly depicted, and there’s a lot happening beneath the surface. The plot twists, without giving away spoilers, land like a gut punch. It’s a novel that will keep you up late. With birds. Lots of birds."
—MATHEW L. MILLER, Cool Green Science


"Accidentals meaningfully explores the sheer contingency of human and animal life [… and] captures the character of the turn of the last century better than a history book, a science textbook, a work of in-depth journalism, an economic report, or a political manifesto."

"Masterful and beautifully wrought."


“This is a book about all the things we don't yet know; all the things we know but keep hidden; and all the things we once knew but have lost. Gorgeous, smart, and surprising . . .

Also with birds!”
KAREN JOY FOWLER, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

“The personal is political: if anybody has ever wondered what this insight means then I recommend Accidentals as an enchanting path toward understanding. A profound and moving experience awaits the reader.” 

REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN, author of Plato at the Googleplex

“In clean, beautiful prose and with an environmental sensibility evocative of Stegner, Accidentals sings with the vibrancy of the living world . . . erudite and emotionally compelling, suffused with science and natural history.”
CHRISTIAN KIEFFER, author of Phantoms


“An intimate family story with an astonishingly epic scope. Alive with history, politics, science, romance, and birds, it is as entertaining as it is intelligent, as beautiful as it is wise.”
, author of Still Time

“Deeply moving and powerful.”
—SHERYL COTLEUR, Copperfield's books

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