Foreign Seed

Equal parts mystery and epic novel inspired by historical events, Foreign Seed plunges readers into the search for a man who seems to vanish out of thin air.

China, June 1918.

When the explorer Frank Meyer suddenly disappears from a ferry on the Yangtze River, American Vice-Consul Samuel Sokobin is tasked with finding the missing man. By the time Sokobin receives the case, four days have passed since Meyer was last seen on the vast river. With no clues to guide his search and fearing failure in his new post as a man of rank, Sokobin heads upriver with Mr. Lin, a Chinese interpreter he’s never met. The investigation soon turns deeply personal for Sokobin, who can’t help but conflate Meyer’s fate with that of his own daring younger brother—a fighter pilot gone MIA in the world war. As Sokobin continues to search for answers, this mental connection threatens to break him, and he’s forced to contend with the biggest question of all: what do we do when the answers we most desperately seek are the very ones that elude us?

A sweeping tale of loss and grief, Foreign Seed is a moving testament to friendship, faith, and the resilience of the human spirit. Allison Alsup’s exquisitely-researched debut novel will stay in readers’ hearts and minds long after they’ve turned the last page.

Foreign Seed, with its subtle, subterranean Heart of Darkness rumblings, is one of the most satisfying novels I’ve read in a long time. I got completely and gratefully lost in its rich setting and memorable characters. You will, too.” – Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Somebody’s Fool

“Allison Alsup’s deftly propulsive debut illustrates the profound, rippling impact of even the smallest gestures and revelations—and how empathy transcends language and customs. What begins as a missing person’s case shifts into a moving journey of one man’s reckoning with grief, loss, and personal fallibility. Evocative and elegiac, Foreign Seed casts a spell of quiet wonderment.” – Chin-Sun Lee, author of Upcountry

“Alsup handles the fascinating complications of Foreign Seed beautifully, pulling the reader through Sobokin’s fears to his triumphant growth.” – Laura Furman, author and former series editor of The O. Henry Prize Stories