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Adventures in Dystopia Paperback – December 10, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1491068337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1491068335
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"... [A]n intimate, intercontinental voyage through a series of disparate lives."
Sellen's debut novel interweaves a series of vignettes from across the globe to create a broad diorama of modern-day culture clashes. ...These stories in turn branch out to incorporate an impressively varied, realistic cast of characters. All walks of life are represented, but mostly, as hinted by the title, the tales develop from the desperation generated within impoverished lands. --Kirkus Reviews

"A rich patchwork of global perspectives provides a dizzying bird's-eye view of class divisions."
This largely realistic study of people and culture illustrates the extent of globalization, how interconnected the world has become, and how even worldly people can retain provincial prejudices. ... Wealth and poverty are major themes here, and watching characters of different socioeconomic situations interact is fascinating. ... It is an interesting and worthwhile read for anyone interested in globalization or the developing world.--Clarion Reviews

"Mr. Sellen has given us a story here that is indeed worth knowing. ... All of the men and women of the novel round out to bring forth human endeavor in such a rare full way that the pages feel like a gift. It is a great accomplishment to write a page turner that makes you think. Daniel Sellen has done it. Tinged with humor and worry, it is the full package."--Rebecca's Reads

About the Author

DANIEL SELLEN works and blogs for a Washington, DC-based international financial institution, and has lived the last ten years in India, Côte d’Ivoire, and Colombia. He holds a Masters in Anthropology and a PhD in Agricultural Economics. He lives in Bogotá.

More About the Author

Daniel Sellen is the author of "Adventures in Dystopia", the story of the interconnected lives of six people--three rich, three poor--living in Colombia, India, and Côte d'Ivoire.

A Canadian national, Daniel has lived and worked in over thirty countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America with the mission of poverty reduction and sustainable development. In his earlier career, he was a university lecturer, kindergarten worker, gas station attendant, English teacher, and dinosaur hunter.

Daniel works and blogs for an international financial institution based in Washington, DC. He holds a Master's in Anthropology and a Ph.D in Agricultural Economics. He currently lives in Bogotá, Colombia, where he continues to struggle with dancing salsa.

(Photo credit: Allaeddin Twebti, 2013)

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
It made me laugh and cry at the same time.
The book eases the reader in with a lot of humor and an engaging style, and then grows, in intensity, depth and humanity.
As a development worker, I could very well identify with some of the characters in the story.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alsacienne on December 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
For anyone who's ever worked in international development, the characters, scenes and situations will instantly feel familiar. For those who haven't, the book is an excellent introduction to the challenges of living in that world, through the eyes of some very endearing characters. Sellen draws you in quickly and successfully mixes lightness and seriousness in a uniquely engaging style.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kathy on January 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book -- read it cover to cover in just a couple days. The characters are all well-developed, each managing their own situations to the best of their abilities (and each with their own blind spots).
*I enjoyed following the "Adventures of Sunil and Karma" and their entrepreneurial "win-win" spirit
*The "world views" of Kelly & Tiffany kept me laughing
*I really felt for Koro who tugged at my heatrstrings - and I appreciated Colin's empathetic actions. I have seen many Colins and Kofis -- felt like I knew them but without knowing them to their core.
*Juan and Santiago shed light on a complex situation, and it was interesting (and frightening) to see how Juan inadvertently got involved in the drug business.
*Like with Kelly, Monique amused me. I found myself chuckling at Monique's hypocracy and arrogance (with her lack of introspection). The mirror she puts up is (intentionally) uncomfortable for readers working in international development: I've probably met her and don't want to be her.

Overall, I come away with reflection on how "local" everyone's reality really is (despite the thin threads that link some of the characters across the globe). A fascinating look through "little windows" into people's lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GHB on January 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With Adventures in Dystopia, Daniel Sellen shows a keen eye for the human side of the development story, lampooning and relegating to well-deserved oblivion the terminology of the profession -- the utterly empty phrases such as "good governance provides the enabling environment for empowering beneficiaries" that turn up in the standard power point presentation on development. This is an engrossing and skillfully-written exploration of a set of personalities of depth and complexity. These are adroitly juxtaposed: three country settings, each with a dyad of international development "types": the condescending international economist and the petty criminal in Colombia; the naive but lovable missionary and the pair of equally lovable scam artists in India; and the highly sympathetic development pro (the author's alter ego?) with the maid who has suffered virtually all the indignities life can throw at uneducated women in Cote d'Ivoire. The novel's focus is on the human interaction -- each unlikely pairing serving to deepen the humanity of the western protagonist -- with the development issues presented as a backdrop to the story. What emerges is not only a set of lovely human vignettes; it gives insight into the way so many of us really experience our lives in development work (like the author I have led a career in the development field). What Mr. Sellen has achieved here includes more than some rollicking good stories; he has written a primer that should become part of the syllabus for any class in "development theory" -- one that reflects the human reality of development work as experienced by both practitioners and "stakeholders" far better than any textbook I have yet seen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By on January 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
Reviewed by F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads (1/14)

The key to the success of Daniel Sellen's novel, “Adventures in Dystopia” just may be the style of writing he has chosen to employ. Each line is a precise carving, sentences un-adorned by frivolous word play, the language clean and hard landing. The paragraphs are often short shot, quick reads. There are six main characters, KORO, KELLY, SUNIL, COLIN, MONIQUE and JUAN, and this technique allows each of them to enter and leave through transitions that are smooth flowing. The author builds the diverse worlds of each person over time, but you feel you know them almost immediately. This character development is important; without knowing these people (and their surroundings) so intently, the stories might not have ended up with the overall impact that they have.

Mr. Sellen has given us a story here that is indeed worth knowing. There is much going on here, overtly, as well as beneath the surface. The impact of poverty in third world situations is vibrantly depicted. The lengths people sometimes go to simply to survive, the situations they inadvertently find themselves linked to, are eye opening. You get inside the struggles of ordinary people and are held by their routines. It's quite extraordinary how much you are able to feel the environments Sellen creates.

The real uniqueness of this work though just may be the exposure of hypocrisy. The good seemings are not always well intentioned. The truly good can also be flawed, their agendas skewed. Also you get both sides of the coin in “Adventures in Dystopia.” Those on top and their manipulations are rendered. The proselytizing for spiritual awakenings are depicted succinctly, edges and all.
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