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March 2018 Fiction: Literary

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The Changeling
A Novel
By (author): Victor LaValle
9780812985870 Paperback, Trade English General Trade FICTION / Literary Mar 06, 2018
$24.00 CAD
Active 5.2 x 8 x 0.9 in 448 pages Spiegel & Grau
One man’s thrilling journey through an enchanted world to find his wife, who has disappeared after seemingly committing an unforgiveable act of violence, from the award-winning author of the The Devil in Silver and Big Machine.

“If the literary gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison…the result would be Victor LaValle.”—Anthony Doerr

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love.

Story Locale: New York City

Publication History: Spiegel & Grau HC (6/17)

A BOOK ABOUT BOOKSELLING, STORIES, AND MYTHS: Apollow Kagwa’s profession as a rare book dealer, the books he deals (from Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee), and the archetypal stories they tell are a major element in the narrative.

ENGAGING THEMES: LaValle weaves together the evils and corruption of the modern world with ancient legends and creates a work of literary horror that discusses the preternatural love parents have for their children, the bond between husband and wife, the ancient myths that affect our present-day lives, and the monsters we are all eventually forced to confront.

AWARD WINNER: LaValle has won the Shirley Jackson Award, the Earnest Gaines Award, the American Book Award, and a Whiting, and was a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Open Book Award. He was also a judge for the 2011 National Book Awards.

VICTOR LaVALLE is the author of the short-story collection Slapboxing with Jesus, winner of the PEN/Open Book Award; author of the novels Devil in Silver, Big Machine, and The Ecstatic; and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Among his numerous awards and fellowships are a Whiting Award, a Bread Loaf Writer’s Fellowship, a USA Ford Fellowship, a place on The New Yorker’s 40 Under 40 shortlist, and the key to southeastern Queens. He teaches writing at Columbia University.

Author Residence: New York City

Author Hometown: New York City

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Publicity: New in paperback

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“The combination of Grimm-ish allusion and social commentary might seem pat in the hands of less capable authors, but [Victor] LaValle executes the trick with style…. LaValle has written a story full of things to terrify not children but the parents who lose sleep worrying about how best to protect them.”Time

“One of the reasons to read Victor LaValle’s novels is the simple sentence-by-sentence pleasure of them—they offer hundreds of baby dopamine hits, tiny baths for the prose snob’s reward system…. LaValle’s observations about race remain, as ever, both stinging and mordantly funny…. And his imagery is a source of immense satisfaction…. If monsters are your subject, writing like an angel helps.”—Jennifer Senior, The New York Times

“[A] bewitching masterpiece…. Like a woke Brothers Grimm, his clever new spin on the ages-old changeling myth is a modern fairy tale for the Trump era, taking on fatherhood, parenting, marriage, immigration, race and terrifying loss…. LaValle impressively maintains his storytelling momentum throughout The Changeling…. He not only recaptures the need for fairy tales but makes his essential reading as well.”USA Today (four out of four stars)

“Victor LaValle’s fabulist ode to fatherhood and fairy tales offers a new take on themes as old as time…. Throughout western mythology, white men with swords have been the heroes while the rest of us watch, oohing and aahing, from the sidelines. With his genre-bending novel, The Changeling, Victor LaValle updates the epic narrative for the twenty-first century.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“Fiercely defies categorization. Written as a self-proclaimed ‘fairy tale’ in a punchy, inviting style, Mr. LaValle’s haunting tale weaves a mesmerizing web around fatherhood, racism, horrific anxieties and even To Kill a Mockingbird. And the backdrop for this rich phantasmagoria? The boroughs of New York.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“I was frequently startled by The Changeling’s piercingly beautiful insights into parenthood, childhood, [and] adulthood…. By turns enchanting, infuriating, horrifying, and heartbreaking, The Changeling is never less than completely engaging…. It’s a book that makes me want to seek people out to talk about it, to share together our own stories of reading it.”—NPR

“Fans of the macabre can’t miss the latest offering from prolific horror master Victor LaValle, which hurls us into the most harrowing abyss imaginable: parenthood…. Definitely scarier than anything you’ll hear around the campfire.”Vulture
“This is a perfect summer horror read.”Houston Chronicle

“Like a good Coen brothers film, this genre-defying, achingly literate phantasmagoria of a novel will work every nook and cranny of the imagination, taking the reader to places we’re either too afraid to visit or never knew existed.”—Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout

“Absolutely compelling, completely thrilling, The Changeling overflows with menace, wonder, and beauty.”—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

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