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Random House Publishing Group, Fall 2018

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    9780812996531 Electronic book text, EPUB 9781400062690 Hardback, $31 CAD
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    Distributor: Penguin Random House Availability: Available On Sale Date: Aug 21, 2018 Carton Quantity: 24
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Against the Country
A Novel
By (author): Ben Metcalf
9780812972788 Paperback, Trade English General Trade FICTION / Literary Aug 21, 2018
$23.00 CAD
Active 5.15 x 7.99 x 1.7 in 336 pages Random House Trade Paperback Random House Trade Paperbacks
“[A] country cousin to David Foster Wallace”—The New York Times Book Review

For fans of literary Southern Gothic: an intense, sly and trenchant debut novel about growing up in the wilds of Goochland County, Virginia, from former literary editor of Harper’s Magazine, Ben Metcalf.

Beginning with his parents’ decision to move away from the corrupting influences of town, and to settle instead in rural Virginia, Metcalf’s narrator leads the reader through a gallery of scabrous youths and callous adults driven mad by the stubborn soil of the New World. Eloquently misanthropic, the narrator of Against the Country fully inhabits the style of the old timer’s winding yarn even as he sabotages all that the forces of provincialism stand for from within. For it is through this deft and self-destructive tone that it becomes clear that the land itself, from dirtyards to farms and forests, is not mere backdrop but the living, breathing, menacing influence behind each and every inhabitant’s hardscrabble existence.

If Gary Shteyngart grew up along the banks of the Mississippi, this is the book that he would write.

Story Locale: Goochland, Virginia

Publication History: Random House HC (1/15)

BEN METCALF was born in Illinois and raised in that state and later in rural Virginia. He was for many years the literary editor of Harper’s Magazine. His writing has appeared in The Baffler, Harper’s, and elsewhere and has twice been included in The Best American Essays.

Author Residence: New York, NY

Author Hometown: Goochland, Virginia

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Publicity: New in Paperback

“Iconoclastic . . . Against the Country has obvious affinities to Southern Gothic, both in its voice and in the delight it takes in rural ignorance and grotesqueries. . . . [A] country cousin of David Foster Wallace.”The New York Times Book Review

“Exceptional in its verbal brilliance and conscientiousness, Against the Country involves us in a family’s anguished and hilarious struggle against the strange dooms that seem peculiar to white rural America. This is a savage and gladdening novel.”—Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland and The Dog

“[Ben] Metcalf’s unnamed narrator dazzles with his Puritan deadpan and capacious intellect, not to mention his double-barreled blasts of dark humor and wicked satire. . . . There are so many brilliant turns of phrase in Against the Country that it’s hard to choose favorites, but Metcalf is at his sharpest and most seductive when his antihero does more than blast and blame, when he steps outside his sermons to say something real. . . . Every note in every solo is sounded with exquisite perfection.”Slate

“Faulknerian . . . eccentric, magnificent Southern Gothic metafiction.”Vanity Fair

“Ben Metcalf is a brilliant writer, and Against the Country is an ingenious and hilarious novel, a glittering, bitter celebration of how the lousiness of life can be redeemed in the hands (and mouth) of a top-shelf teller of life’s stories.”—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask and The Fun Parts

“A daring conglomeration of every trick, swindle and gimmick possible using only ink and paper, a pulpwood imagination machine so finely and expertly wrought that it can take on Jefferson, Thoreau, the church, patriotism, race relations, sexual identity, J. D. Salinger, the myth of America and a thousand other targets . . . [Against the Country] is absolutely and completely worth all investment of time and effort, because it is an undeniably beautiful object, sharp as a new razor.”—NPR

“The book is nothing short of an encyclopedia of American provincial rage in all its irrepressible hideousness. . . . Against the Country stands out as one of the more necessary—and most eloquent—expressions of a distinctly American, provincial rage in some years.”Flavorwire

“This novel is a lightning strike. It is a surge of electrical energy captured inside sentences. Ben Metcalf is a master of rhetoric and rage and persuasion and darkness and wit. Against the Country is an explosion of a book.”—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers

“A virtuosic tour de force of Southern malfeasance . . . The all-American life is lovingly deconstructed in a passionate screed that feels like a confession from the tortured heart of the South itself. But even in envying Thomas Jefferson ‘his idyllic hallucinations’ and damning ‘this flytrap of a county,’ Metcalf composes a relentlessly articulate paean to the American project. In the end, this isn’t a Southern novel, because it isn’t exactly a novel. It’s more like man’s revenge on God for the world he made—and anyone who disagrees must be a Yankee.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A descriptive diatribe requiring careful reading for full appreciation of its wit . . . Besides being quite amusing, this book provides a potent examination of rural culture and of life in general. . . . The recirculating structure and casual yet intensely cerebral nature of this book make an arresting though demanding read. . . . Highly recommended.”Library Journal

Against the Country makes me feel joyful the way Candide, for all its astute gloominess, makes me feel better about the world because such a brilliant, funny thing has been made in it. The intelligence is generous and omnipresent, and every single page made me laugh.”—Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

“To find anything reminiscent of this writing you’d need to go back about 150 years, though it sounds new in Metcalf’s handling and occasionally even punk. What he has to say about American childhood is frightening and true. Virginia, you have been both honored and shamed by your wayward son.”—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead: Essays

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