From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. LaValle has garnered critical acclaim for his previous works (a collection, Slapboxing with Jesus
, and novel, The Ecstatic
), and his second novel is sure to up his critical standing while furthering comparisons to Haruki Murakami, John Kennedy Toole and Edgar Allan Poe. Gritty, mostly honest-hearted ex-heroin addict protagonist Ricky Rice takes a chance on an anonymous note delivered to him at the cruddy upstate New York bus depot where he works as a porter. Quickly, Ricky finds himself among the Unlikely Scholars, a secret society of ex-addicts and petty criminals, all black like him, living in remote Vermont and sifting through stacks of articles in a library devoted to investigating the supernatural; the existence of a god; and the legacy of Judah Washburn, an escaped slave who claimed to have had contact with a higher being that the Unlikely Scholars now call the Voice. Ricky's intoxicating voice—robust, organic, wily—is perfect for narrating LaValle's high-stakes mashup of thrilling paranormal and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
, as the fateful porter—something of a modern Odysseus rallied by a team of spiritual X-men—wanders through America's messianic hoo-hah. (Aug.)
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“Fractures all of our notions of how well-made fiction ought to behave. . .idea-hungry and haywire, too alive and abrasive to be missed. The multicultural novel has come of age — smashingly.” — Kirkus
“LaValle is as much wry fabulist as he is dogged allegorist, and his flights of grim fancy are tethered by acute observations. He can be awfully funny, too. [His]devilish fable renders the visible world–of science, social hierarchies, and New York Times
headlines–a load of cultish hooey.”
“Beautiful.” — Vanity Fair
“If Hieronymus Bosch and Lenny Bruce got knocked up by a woman with a large and compassionate heart, they might have brought forth Big Machine
. But it is Victor LaValle's peculiar, poetic, rough and funny voice that brings it to us, alive and kicking and irresistible.”—Amy Bloom, author of the New York Times
“Big Machine i
s like nothing I’ve ever read, incredibly human and alien at the same time. LaValle writes like Gabriel Garcia Marquez mixed with Edgar Allen Poe, but this is even more than that. He’s written the first great book of the next America.”—Mos Def
“If the literary Gods mixed together Haruki Murakami and Ralph Ellison, and threw in several fistfuls of 21st century attitude, the result would be Victor LaValle. Big Machine is a wonderful, original, and crazy novel.” —Anthony Doerr, author of The Shell Collector
and About Grace
“Victor LaValle is one of the finest writers around—puzzling but never abstruse, compassionate but never pitying. With The Ecstatic
, he produced one of my favorite novels of the decade, and now, with Big Machine
, he has produced another: a pristine window into a flawed human soul, but also a daring fantasy through which America and all its troubles come sliding gradually into focus.” —Kevin Brockmeier, author of A Brief History of the Dead
“Sure to up his critical standing while furthering comparisons to Haruki Murakami, John Kennedy Toole and Edgar Allan Poe. Ricky’s intoxicating voice—robust, organic, wily—is perfect for narrating LaValle’s high-stakes mashup of thrilling paranormal and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
, as the fateful porter—something of a modern Odysseus rallied by a team of ‘spiritual X-men’—wanders through America’s ‘messianic hoo-hah.’”—Publishers Weekly
, starredFrom the Hardcover edition.