The Sparrow (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This book is shelved in our fiction section but it is a bit of a mystery, a bit of a fairy tale, a bit of anthropology, a bit of sci-fi, and a whole lot of wonderful. It is creative and intense and one of those books that I try to get everyone to read because it is so darn good. --Sarah

— From Sarah


A visionary work that combines speculative fiction with deep philosophical inquiry, The Sparrow tells the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a scientific mission entrusted with a profound task: to make first contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The mission begins in faith, hope, and beauty, but a series ofsmall misunderstandings brings it to a catastrophic end.
Praise for The Sparrow

A startling, engrossing, and moral work of fiction. TheNew York Times Book Review
Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. The Sparrow is one of them. Entertainment Weekly
Powerful . . . The Sparrow tackles a difficult subject with grace and intelligence. San Francisco Chronicle
Provocative, challenging . . . recalls both Arthur C. Clarke and H. G. Wells, with a dash of Ray Bradbury for good measure. The Dallas Morning News
Mary Doria] Russell shows herself to be a skillful storyteller who subtly and expertly builds suspense. USA Today

About the Author

Mary Doria Russell has been called one of the most versatile writers in contemporary American literature. Widely praised for her meticulous research, fine prose, and compelling narrative drive, she is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, Dreamers of the Day, Doc, and Epitaph. Dr. Russell holds a Ph.D. in biological anthropology. She lives in Lyndhurst, Ohio.

Praise For…

Excerpts from reviews of Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow

"It is science fiction brought back to the project with which it began in
the hands of a writer like Jules Verne: the necessity of wonder, the hope
for moral rectitude, and the possibility of belief."


"Russell's debut novel...focuses on her characters, and it is here that
the work truly shines. An entertaining infusion of humor keeps the book
from becoming too dark, although some of the characters are so clever that
they sometimes seem contrived. Readers who dislike an emphasis on moral
dilemmas or spiritual quests may be turned off, but those who enjoy
science fiction because it can create these things are in for a real

--Science Fiction Weekly

"The Sparrow tackles a difficult subject with grace and

--San Francisco Chronicle

"The Sparrow is an incredible novel, for one reason. Though it is
set in the early twenty-first century, it is not written like most science
fiction. Russell's novel is driven by her characters, by their complex
relationships and inner conflicts, not by aliens or technology."

--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"It is rare to find a book about interplanetary exploration that has this
much insight into human nature and foresight into a possible future."

--San Antonio Express News

"Two narratives--the mission to the planet and its aftermath four decades
later--interweave to create a suspenseful tale."

--The Seattle Times

"By alternating chapters that dramatize Sandoz's tough-love interrogation
with flashbacks to the mission's genesis, flowering, and tragic collapse,
The Sparrow casts a strange, unsettling emotional spell, bouncing
readers from scenes of black despair to ones of wild euphoria, from the
bracing simplicity of pure adventure to the complicated tangles of
nonhuman culture and politics.--The smooth storytelling and gorgeous
characterization can't be faulted."

--Entertainment Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780449912553
ISBN-10: 0449912558
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: September 8th, 1997
Pages: 432
Language: English
Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle