Daisy Hildyard

Published 20 April 2022 | French paperback with flaps, 224 pages
Winner of the 2023 RSL Encore Award

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Emergency is a novel about the dissolving boundaries between all life on earth. Stuck at home alone under lockdown, a woman recounts her 1990s childhood in rural Yorkshire. She watches a kestrel hunting, helps a farmer with a renegade bull, and plays out with her best friend, Clare. Around her in the village her neighbours are arguing, keeping secrets, caring for one another, trying to hold down jobs. In the woods and quarry there are foxcubs fighting, plants competing for space, ageing machines, and a three-legged deer who likes cake. These local phenomena interconnect and spread out from China to Nicaragua as pesticides circulate, money flows around the planet, and bodies feel the force of distant power. A story of remote violence and a work of praise for a persistently lively world, brilliantly written, surprising, evocative and unsettling, Daisy Hildyard’s Emergency reinvents the pastoral novel for the climate change era.

‘Hildyard doesn’t offer the narratives of therapy, social criticism or self-development to be found in other English pastoralists (Helen Macdonald, Ronald Blythe or Adrian Bell). Her style is more reminiscent of such contemporary poets as Kathleen Jamie and Alice Oswald, with their quiet and attentive watchfulness to a non-human reality they only half-understand. Her prose calls for, and frequently earns, the same respectful attentiveness from its readers.’
— Dr Nikhil Krishnan, Telegraph

‘This book succeeds because of the chilly and beautifully sustained voice of its narrator, the precise embroidery of its sentences and paragraphs, its observations of the natural world and insistence that there is no distinction between humans and environments.’
Sarah Moss, Guardian 

‘In the wake of the biggest natural melodrama of recent times, Emergency is a thoughtful, poised reflection on how much change we humans, among the animals, can ever bring to bear.’
Natalie Whittle, Financial Times

‘Past and present, nature and humanity, life and death intermix, ebbing and flowing in a stream of prose that carries the reader on an exhilarating and frequently provocative and violent ride.’
Philippa Nutall, New Statesman

‘Daisy Hildyard’s Emergency is a pastoral novel for the age of dissolving boundaries.… The slowness and gentleness of the text, its pace and its language, make you consider its title. There are emergencies and ruptures, but less of the urgent kind. More at play is a slow, steady and inevitable unfolding – of emergence.’ 
Abi Andrews, Irish Times

‘Breaking apart well-worn tropes, Emergency provides an unaffectedly complicated picture of our shared environment, exposing the gaps in the lockdown narrative that ”nature is healing”. Airborne pesticides continue to circulate; a ring pull found by the narrator as a child washes up decades later in a seabird’s corpse. A common fragility unites all species in this quietly magnificent novel.’
Damian Walsh, Literary Review 

‘In refusing to privilege human drama over natural processes, Hildyard captures the ecosystem’s delicate interconnectedness and suggests a new way of writing about our toll on the environment.’
New Yorker

‘Hildyard’s feat has been to create a novel that presents itself not as a story but as a complex ecosystem…. The beauty of Emergency is in its attempt to glimpse an expanded paradigm of meaning, which encompasses but isn’t limited to our own.’
The Wall Street Journal 

‘A stunning book – a balm for our times – containing the incredible gift of the everyday.’

‘Daisy Hildyard has confronted our new nature and, bravely, compellingly, makes our shared emergency visible.’
Claire Pettitt, TLS

‘It’s a gorgeous novel of a youth spent on the cusp of societal upheaval.’
Publisher’s Weekly 

‘The writing in Emergency is slow and meditative. Still, the narrator’s lips are taut against ready-to-bare teeth – she has an unwavering commitment to expanding the realities of life on earth and the complicated relationship between man and nature.’
Anna Cafolla, The Face

Emergency is a strange and luminously original novel. Daisy Hildyard writes about childhood with a kind of ecstatic detachment, dissolving the boundaries between past and present, and between human and animal life. I find her work exhilarating and subtly provocative. There is, as far as I’m aware, nothing else quite like it in contemporary English-language fiction.’
— Mark O’Connell, author of Notes from an Apocalypse

‘Rich and unflinching, this writing expands our sense of what it means to live, as we do, in a time of crisis. It leads us beyond rational climate debates into the deeply sensual, and sometimes nightmarish, places where our inner and outer worlds make contact.’
— Katharine Kilalea, author of OK, Mr Field

‘In this powerfully attuned novel, the world presses in on all sides, refusing to become background. From the discarded plastics of the narrator’s childhood, now circulating microscopically in the world around her as an adult, to the journey of grass through the bodies of animals and back out to the field as fertiliser, Emergency shows us the cost, as well as the conflicted splendour, of a world that is “fatally interconnected”. Its prose is bewitching and uncompromising, alive to the enmeshing of cruelty with care that articulates our shared – human and nonhuman – existence.’
— Daisy Lafarge, author of Paul

Emergency is an incisive kaleidoscope of past and present, nature and industry, stillness and pace, collapsing all into a tapestry of consciousness.’ 
— Aysegül Savas, author of Walking on the Ceiling

‘Hildyard’s writing stretches the mind.’
— Alexandra Kleeman, author of Something New Under the Sun

‘Emergency is a book to be relished, its precise, subtle prose devoid of romanticism yet passionate in its own way. Hildyard’s writing is a feast for the senses: vivid and beguiling, pragmatic and unflinching, and deeply thoughtful.’
Rachel Farmer, Lunate

Daisy Hildyard’s first novel, Hunters in the Snow, received the Somerset Maugham Award and a ‘5 under 35’ honorarium at the USA National Book Awards. Her essay The Second Body, a brilliantly lucid account of the dissolving boundaries between all life on earth, was published by Fitzcarraldo Editions in 2017. She lives with her family in North Yorkshire, where she was born.