ALA/Booklist has named The Rope Eater one of the Top Ten First Novels of 2004. (no link....)

Listen to the Leonard Lopate interview on WNYC>

Listen to the VPR interview>

Arctic Treasure

"Ben Jones's extraordinary first novel is a gripping arctic adventure that is transformed by his dazzling prose into something much more...It deserves to be one of the most admired novels of the new year." Full review >

1860 Arctic voyage explores dark recesses of men's souls

"This story of an Arctic journey, set in the 1860s, provides plenty of realistic chill. But what sets this novel apart from its many adventuring cousins is the stark insight with which debut author Ben Jones charts the emotional journey of his narrator, Brendan Kane....Under this guise of an adventure story, Jones leads his readers on an exploration of the dark corners of men's souls." Full Review>

Arctic Treasure

"A heady mix of Melville's Moby Dick and Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, The Rope Eater melds breathtaking lyricism with gripping realism, producing a page-turning adventure that navigates that heart of darkness hidden within men's souls. " Full review >

Facing the elements, and one's self

An interview with Robin Dougherty

Q: What is the meaning of Dr. Architeuthis's name?
A: It means giant squid. They are masters of the hidden realm

Read the full interview >


PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, October 13, 2003
(Starred Review)
Editor's choice-December 2003

“JONES'S HAUNTING, GORGEOUS DEBUT chronicles the travels and travails of Brendan Kane... harshly beautiful... astonishing." Full review>

*A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality


"A dark, poetic epic of adventure and the permutating strangeness of survival. Ben Jones descends from the Beowulf poet via Melville and his voice and vision are beautifully haunted by their bloody ghosts."

—Brad Watson, National Book Award Finalist and author of The Heaven of Mercury

BOOKLIST (Starred Review)

"This is a mesmerizing novel that is exciting, brutal, and often gruesome. Providing fascinating glimpses of each man's backstory as well as breathtaking descriptions of the frozen landscape, Jones illuminates both the beauty and the darkness of the quest." Full review>


“With The Rope Eater, Ben Jones has produced not simply a novel but an entire world both fabulous and mythic, a world rendered in prose both stark and lovely as the landscape and the characters within. Although set in the not-so distant past, this account of the dreams and harsh realities serves as a clearly distinct fable for our times. I cannot recommend The Rope Eater more strongly—Ben Jones enters the ranks as a storyteller of first note.”

—Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall and Lost Nation

Debut Generating Buzz...
"Deserting from the Union Army during the Civil War, a feckless young New Englander encounters something worse. He signs on as a crew member of the Narthex, which unbeknownst to him is heading for the Arctic in search of a mythic valley said to be lush and temperate. Penned by the Dean of Admissions at Bennington College, this debut is generating buzz."

BOOK Magazine:
The 50 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time

"What makes a great adventure book? Need there be pirates? Long walks through icy arctic landscapes? Grueling desert sojourns? A great white whale? Battles against the elements? One thing's certain: The Hours doesn't qualify. We assembled some of the greatest experts on adventure writing to vote for the 50 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time..." Click for the complete story>