When Gabriel’s mother suddenly decides to repatriate to her native Uruguay after thirty years in California, he takes a break from his uninspiring job to accompany her. Immersed in his squabbling family, birdwatching in the wetlands on their abandoned ranch, and falling in love with a local biologist, he makes discoveries that force him to contend with the environmental cataclysm of his turn-of-millennium present—even as he confronts the Cold War era ideologies and political violence that have shaped his family’s past. Accidentals is a multicultural novel of loss and discovery that challenges our notions of family and explores the ways that science, with all its uncertainties, illuminates the natural world and our future.
‘Gorgeous, smart, and surprising, this family saga takes us into the large world of nations and politics, but also the microscopic world of mud and microbes. Tender and powerful. Also with birds!’ – Karen Joy Fowler
‘Accidentals sings with the vibrancy of the living world. It is a novel both erudite and emotionally compelling, suffused with science and natural history, and one which places Gaines firmly in the company of Richard Powers, Barbara Kingsolver, and Anthony Doerr.’ – Christian Kiefer, author of Phantoms and The Infinite Tides
‘Accidentals is 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. Gabe’s evolution from a passive observer to the passionate creator of his own destiny is a life-changing experience not only for him, but for readers as well.’ – Jean Hegland, author of Still Time and Into the Forest
‘The personal is political: if anybody has ever wondered what this insight means then I recommend Accidentals as an enchanting path toward understanding. ... masterfully encompasses so many levels, from the biology of microbes to the chaos of politics and the mysteries of the human heart…. A novel that is, above all, about how seeing is an act of love..’ – Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex and Properties of Light
‘…the reader will walk away with an understanding of not only Uruguay’s repressive regimes, but also biomass, bird preservation, and more.” Kirkus Reviews
‘Accidentals is a love story set against a backdrop of family strife and secrets – a kind of Shakespearean tragedy freighted with Cold War politics, environmental urgency, and birds. …a spellbinding novel from a writer whom you may not (yet) know, but whose praises you’ll soon be singing.’ Four Corners Free Press