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Anansi

French Exit
By (author): Patrick DeWitt
9781487004835 Paperback, Trade English General Trade FICTION / Literary Aug 28, 2018
$22.95 CAD
Forthcoming 5.5 x 8.25 in 248 pages House of Anansi Press Inc House of Anansi Press

Frances Price — tart widow, possessive mother, and Upper East Side force of nature — is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son Malcolm is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development. And then there’s the Price’s aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social outcasts.

Putting penury and pariahdom behind them, the family decides to cut their losses and head for the exit. One ocean voyage later, the curious trio land in their beloved Paris, the City of Light serving as a backdrop not for love or romance, but self-destruction and economic ruin — to riotous effect. A number of singular characters serve to round out the cast: a bashful private investigator, an aimless psychic proposing a seance, a doctor who makes house calls with his wine merchant in tow, and the inimitable Mme. Reynard, aggressive houseguest and dementedly friendly American expat.

Brimming with pathos and wit, French Exit is a one-of-a-kind 'tragedy of manners,' a riotous send-up of high society, as well as a moving mother/son caper which only Patrick deWitt could conceive and execute.

PATRICK DEWITT was born on Vancouver Island in 1975. He is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: Undermajordomo Minor, Ablutions and The Sisters Brothers, which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Stephen Leacock Medal, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

PRAISE FOR PATRICK DEWITT AND FRENCH EXIT

“Disarmingly funny . . . Billed as a ‘tragedy of manners,’ French Exit is deWitt’s take on a form of theatre popularized over the centuries (but dating back to the ancient Greeks) by such luminaries as Molière, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, and Noel Coward — with deWitt’s snappy yet droll version most closely resembling the latter two. A traditional comedy of manners employs an abundance of wit and insouciance to skewer the deplorable aspects of high society — and the prevalence of appearance over substance in particular. DeWitt’s absolute mastery over this approach is a thing of beauty: every nuance, scene, character, and snippet of dialogue is pitch perfect . . . French Exit includes multiple layers of meaning and social commentary, wrapped up in a whip-smart package that cracks with wit and wordplay . . . DeWitt proves that while The Sisters Brothers may have made his name as an author, it was far from a singular success.” — Quill & Quire, STARRED REVIEW

“A thrilling madcap caper anchored by memorable characters, emotional depth, and forensically sharp writing.” — Hannah Rothschild, author of The Improbability of Love

French Exit made me so happy — I feel as if I have downed a third martini, stayed up past sunrise, and still woken up refreshed. Brilliant, addictive, funny, and wise, deWitt’s latest has enough charm to last you long after you’ve put it down, which is what so many of us need in a book. I think you need it, too.” — Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less

“Patrick deWitt has taken all of what I usually expect and want from a story, misted it in Chanel No. 5, and set to it an immeasurably classy lighter. Love it.” — Natasha Pulley, bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

“My favourite book of his yet. The dialogue is dizzyingly good, the world so fresh. A triumph from a writer truly in the zone.” — Maria Semple, author of Today Will Be Different

“The first time I read French Exit, I raced through, impatient to know the fates of its characters. Then I turned back to page one to enjoy Patrick deWitt’s understated satire and casually brutal wit” — Nell Zink, author of Mislaid

PRAISE FOR PATRICK DEWITT AND UNDERMAJORDOMO MINOR:

Longlist, Scotiabank Giller Prize
A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book
Globe and Mail’s Jared Bland’s Top 5 Favourite Book of the Year
A National Post Top 99 Book
A Times Best Book of the Year
A CBC Book of the Year
An Indigo Best Book of 2015
An Amazon.ca Best Book
An Amazon.ca Editors’ Best Book
A Quill & Quire Notable Book of the Year
An Edmonton Journal Best Book
A Kobo Best Book of the Year
A 49th Shelf Best of 2015
National Bestseller

Undermajordomo Minor not only salutes the literature of a bygone era but fully inhabits it, and the result is a novel that offers the same delights as the fair talks and adventure stories it takes on.” — New York Times Book Review

“Page by page, the book is often a hoot, brimming with winningly quirky characters operating by their own twisted fairy-tale logic.” — Globe and Mail

“[In Undermajordomo Minor], geography and era are purposely abstracted. Where we are, when we are, or why we’re there are all afterthoughts. What matters is Mr. deWitt’s imagination, which is a forceful train that ignores the usual tracks.” — New York Times

“The Canadian writer Patrick deWitt has nerve . . . deWitt’s characters are never either truly good or fully bad. Instead, and more interestingly, they are specimens of flawed but game humanity, baffled souls struggling in a Petri dish, oddly touching to watch . . . deWitt conjures and populates a universe on his terms. This is the territory of the Brothers Grimm, as seen through the skewed lens of Wes Anderson or Monty Python . . . And why shouldn't that work? It works.” — Guardian

“Eerily precise . . . deWitt is a true original, conjuring up dark and hilarious images. This is a bizarre, darkly funny, passionate book . . . It is a story about love, discovery and fantasy for it s own sake, a real storyteller’s tale.” — The Times

“’I don’t subscribe to amusements, Lucy. Laughter is the basest sound a body can make, in my opinion,’ says the valet . . . As I read the book, I more than once made the sound the valet finds so base and unpleasant.” — Wall Street Journal

“With its blend of fantasy and gothic romance, Undermajordomo Minor sounded unlikely to enchant a literalist like me. How wrong I was. From its pitch-perfect opening onwards, it's clear from the unusual atmosphere and droll narration that deWitt has created a unique fictional universe . . . The challenge for the reader is to resist the temptation to devour a novel which should be savoured.” — Independent

“Compulsively readable sentences, oscillating between the prosaic and the lyrical, the modern and the arcane.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“This novel is compulsively readable. DeWitt’s facility with point of view and narrative style is astounding …Undermajordomo Minor has been engineered by a master craftsman. The pacing is superb and, as I read, I kept thinking how grateful I am to writers who can make me laugh.” — Boston Globe

Undermajordomo Minor creates its own earthy kind of magic . . . it’s a wonderful novel that is sure to capture the imagination of many readers and awards committees.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“But the ceaseless, sparkling wit and originality of his latest . . . proves the indomitable deWitt can’t be undone by a few trophies; in fact by delving deeper into the absurd, he arguably takes bigger risk.” — Toronto Star

“In his previous novel, The Sisters Brothers, deWitt discovered brutal humanity and coal-black humour behind the façade of a recognizable genre, and now he’d done it again. Undermajordomo Minor bursts with exchanges begging to be read aloud in the village square.” — Esquire

“In his delightful and dark new novel, Booker nominee deWitt brings his amusingly off-kilter vision to a European folk tale . . . DeWitt uses familiar tropes to lull the reader into a false sense of grounding, delivering with abundant good humor a fully realized, consistently surprising, and thoroughly amusing tale of longing, love, madness, and mirth.” — Publishers Weekly, (Starred Review)

“DeWitt takes full advantage of the way his fairy-tale setting allows him to present outlandish events in the deadpan manner also exploited by Salman Rushdie in his new novel. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights and Undermajordomo Minor are also bookends of a sort — the one resting on the Eastern fairy tale tradition (1,001 Arabian Nights) and the Western (the Brothers Grimm) — and both have abrupt transitions of what Rushdie described as the ‘pumpkins turn into carriages’ sort . . . it is that unsettling modern sensibility that lies at the heart of deWitt’s appeal as a writer. It’s often hard to like his intensely self-absorbed characters, and even harder not to care what becomes of them.” — Maclean’s

“Hilarious . . .The world deWitt gives us is generous, and the protagonist is someone we’re happy to follow. The novel proposes somewhat gently that the pursuit of a painful thing might just be the point, rather than the moment the quest is over — and deWitt illustrates that sweetly. The trip then might be enough for us: funny, sad, violent and illuminated by a minor light.” — Washington Post

PRAISE FOR PATRICK DEWITT AND THE SISTERS BROTHERS:

Governor General’s Literary Award Winner
Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize Winner
Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal Winner
Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award: Fiction Book of the Year Winner
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award Winner
Oregon Book Awards: Ken Kesey Award for Fiction Winner
Man Booker Prize for Fiction Finalist
Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist
CBC Bookie Awards: Literary Fiction Finalist
Walter Scott Prize Finalist
CBA Libris Award: Author of the Year Finalist
GOOGLE PLAY™ International Author of the Year Finalist
Globe and Mail Top 100 Book
Publishers Weekly Best Book
Amazon.ca Best Books: Editors’ Pick
Amazon.ca Best Books: Canadian Fiction
Quill & Quire Book of the Year
Toronto Star Reviewers’ Top 100 Books
Maclean’s Magazine Best Books
Named One of Canada’s Best Writers by the Irish Times

The Sisters Brothers is a bold, original, and powerfully compelling work, grounded in well-drawn characters and a firm hold on narrative. When they say, ‘They don’t write ’em like that anymore,’ they’re wrong.” — Globe and Mail

The Sisters Brothers confirms Patrick deWitt as one of the most talented young writers around.” — Sunday Times

“A powerfully realized work of narrative fiction . . . the dialogue is sharp as a whip . . . the novel works artfully within its formal boundaries to explore the nature of brotherhood, work, love, greed, loneliness, and personal renewal.” — Times Literary Supplement

“Weirdly funny, startlingly violent, and steeped in sadness . . . It’s all rendered irresistible by Eli Sisters, who narrates with a mixture of melancholy and thoughtfulness . . . After capturing the fireside camps and saloons in perfectly drawn vignettes, deWitt strips these two lethal brothers of more than they ever thought a man could lose. And then, damned if he doesn’t surprise us again with a twilight scene that’s just miraculously lovely.” — Washington Post

“There never was a more engaging pair of psychopaths than Charlie and Eli Sisters . . . So subtle is deWitt’s prose, so slyly note-perfect his rendition of Eli’s voice in all its earnestly charming nineteenth-century syntax, and so compulsively readable his bleakly funny Western noir story, that readers will stick by Eli even as he grinds his heel into the shattered skull of an already dead prospector.” — Maclean’s

“Fresh, hilariously anti-heroic, often genuinely chilling, and relentlessly compelling. Yes, this is a mighty fine read, and deWitt a mighty fine writer.” — National Post

“Okay, so it does take a Canadian to write a truly great Western novel of daunting, surrealist panache and rooted in unwavering empathy — and that just about sums up the dark, profound achievement which is The Sisters Brothers.” — Irish Times

PRAISE FOR PATRICK DEWITT AND ABLUTIONS:

“DeWitt delves deeply and unflinchingly into an addict’s mind, bearing witness to what happens to a man as a drug renders him inhuman . . . Ablutions has achieved something remarkable.” — New York Times Book Review

“A brilliant inside view of addiction.” — Times (London)

“A brief, intense, and carefully sustained piece of writing about the blurry edges of existence, shot through with remarkable lucidity. Warning: Cheers it isn’t.” — Guardian

“DeWitt conjures up moments of both painful humor and tender beauty.” — Financial Times

“Read this rambling and gloriously downbeat novel . . . Melancholic, sentimental, and very funny.” — Harper’s Bazaar (UK)

“Patrick deWitt’s hilariously gloomy tale is a sober reminder to stick to the diet tonic water . . . The subtitle is ‘notes for a novel,’ but there is nothing unfinished about Ablutions. The sentences catch the light like drops of Jameson whiskey spilled as a drunk rushes for a puke.” — the Independent

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