Life is a pitch, a negotiation, a persuasion and a losing game in The Ask, the latest social satire from the masterful Sam Lipsyte (Home Land, 2004, etc). The book focuses on the worries of Milo Burke, a development officer at a mediocre university in New York City. Having come within a hair’s length of losing his job and his marriage, Milo leaps at the chance to reel in a mysterious donor whose contribution is dependent on Milo’s obedience. But what’s it really all about? “It’s about a guy in serious trouble,” says Lipsyte. “It’s about a fading marriage, a jobless spiral, fatherhood, capitalism, illegal wars and turkey wraps. It’s about man versus man versus nature versus himself.” More seriously, Lipsyte, a Guggenheim Fellow and critically acclaimed novelist, finds that commerce is an undeniable fact in all our lives. “Everybody’s got an ask of some sort,” says Lipsyte. “Except maybe for Diogenes. But mostly we are making asks, negotiating, horse-trading, in many aspects of our lives. This is not some cold, horrible thing all the time, but just a fact about how we live our time-starved, anxious lives, worrying about money and the well-being of our family and friends. But it can often lead to very strange, funny situations, which I tried to get into the book. If we don’t laugh about this stuff, we’re doomed.”
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Sam LipsyteFarrar Straus Giroux / March / 9780374298913 / $25.00
This book was featured in the Kirkus Best of 2010