Author(s): Jonathan Lethem
Bruno Alexander is a man with expensive problems. Sporting a tuxedo and trotting the globe, he has spent his adult life as a professional gambler. His particular line of work: backgammon, at which he extracts large sums of money from men who think they can challenge his peerless acumen. In Singapore, his luck turned. Maybe it had something to do with the Blot - a black spot which has emerged to distort Bruno's vision. It's not showing any signs of going away. In fact, it's spreading, and as Bruno extends his losing streak in Berlin, it becomes clinically clear that the Blot is the symptom of something terrible. There's a surgeon who can help, an elite specialist, the only one in the world. But surgery is going to involve a lot of money, and worse: returning home. To the land of 'bullying, psychosis and bad taste' otherwise known as contemporary America. Specifically: the garish, hash-smoke streets of Berkeley, California. Here, the unseemly Keith Stolarsky - a childhood friend in possession of an empire of themed burger bars and thrift stores - is king. And he's willing to help Bruno out. But there was always going to be a price.
"There are probably a dozen novelists whose new books, every one, I'm predisposed to read. Jonathan Lethem is one of them. I like his fundamental literary ratios - plot-to-pensees, comedy-to-tragedy - and the prose is a pleasure, lucid sentences that swerve and surprise without being show-offy" -- Kurt Andersen New York Times Book Review "Jonathan Lethem's new novel combines a little of the intrigue of James Bond with all the sexiness of backgammon. The result is a literary game that's shaken not stirred." -- Ron Charles Washington Post "This novel is a tragicomedy; it plays at its best like a "Twilight Zone" episode filmed by the Coen brothers ... Lethem has intense gifts; nothing he writes is a waste of time." -- Dwight Garner New York Times "Lethem's 10th novel is a romp in which history, both personal and collective, can't help but assert itself... Think Thomas Pynchon, especially in the scenes set in Berkeley, a landscape of hipster burger shops and lost souls still longing for a revolution that washed out in an undertow of drugs and dissolution decades before. [A] fitting follow-up to Dissident Gardens (2013)... Lethem takes real pleasure in the language and writes with a sense of the absurd that illuminates his situations and his characters... In this tragicomic novel, nothing is ever exactly as it seems." Kirkus, *Starred Review* "A humorously surreal and articulate story of Bruno's search for himself after having his face and brain rearranged, both by surgery and by modern life in general, this is, among other things, a great Berkeley novel like Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue." Library Journal, *Starred Review*
Jonathan Lethem is the New York Times-bestselling author of nine novels, including Dissident Gardens, The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn. A recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Lethem has also published his stories and essays in the New Yorker, Harper's, Rolling Stone, Esquire and the New York Times, among others.