A searing work of speculative fiction.

THE HIGH-RISE DIVER

A woman works as a secret handler to a disaffected entertainment star in a tightly regulated and surveilled society.

In this Orwellian debut novel, Hitomi Yoshida, a remote psychologist, has been assigned to watch Riva Karnovsky after Riva abruptly quit working as a "high-rise diver," a professional athlete who jumps off skyscrapers while wearing a special flysuit™ that lets her take off just before hitting the ground. Hitomi’s firm has been hired by Riva’s coach and her corporate sponsors, who are desperate to regain control of their star, and it is Hitomi’s hidden work to facilitate her return. Between monitoring Riva, Hitomi works at night for Call-A-Coach™ to earn enough credits to live in the city. As Riva becomes increasingly unresponsive, Hitomi hires a blogger from the peripheries to become a field agent and friend to Riva. This quickly becomes disastrous as she stops listening to instructions from Hitomi, who begins to spiral out of control herself as she faces worsening ratings from her supervisor and intrusive memories of the disappearance of a friend raised alongside her in an institution who could not meet optimization requirements. In this novel, translated from the German, characters have nowhere to hide from cameras, recordings, or the overarching expectation of perfection while being surrounded by the looming threat of exile. The story becomes increasingly horrifying as it becomes clearer that this society’s expectation of excellence leaves no room for emotions, error, or deviance from the behavior that will most please corporations—indeed, there is no room to be human. Yet despite all of her training, Hitomi cannot stop herself from becoming deeply attached to Riva (whose name, one cannot help but notice, is also surrounded in the word “private”) as she struggles to save them both.

A searing work of speculative fiction. (speculative fiction, translated fiction)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64286-076-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: World Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An exhilarating ride through Americana.

THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY

Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.

They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.

An exhilarating ride through Americana.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-73-522235-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Finalist

CLOUD CUCKOO LAND

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.

Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146.

As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982168-43-8

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

more