Global fast-food franchises rule the world, spawning contentious sects. Leonard, for instance, the hapless hero in first-time novelist Cantor’s rambunctiously smart, pun-spiked, and sweet dystopian romantic comedy, works for Neetsa Pizza fielding customer complaints and is, therefore, a Pythagorean. His sister, Carol, serves Scottish tapas at Jack-’o-Bites, which means she should be a Jacobite. Instead, she’s a neo-Maoist, always slipping off to “book club,” code for various revolutionary actions, leaving her gifted son, Felix, with doting Leonard. But once Leonard finds himself on the phone with Marco Polo, time, space, and the status quo begin to seriously warp. Soon Leonard, Felix, and Sally, a fetching “Book Guide” at the university library, are sent on an urgent, cosmic quest back to Marco’s era, a mission involving two other thirteenth-century renegades, the English philosopher Roger Bacon and the prophetic Kabbalist Abraham Abulafia. Glimmering with “signs and wonders” and laced with satirical jabs at technological intrusiveness and deception, Cantor’s funny and charming metaphysical adventure and love story is a wily inquiry into questions of perception, knowledge, mystery, legacy, and love. --Donna Seaman
“A dystopian satire, a story about storytelling, believing and listening—A Highly Unlikely Scenario
is ultimately a history of our own strange world.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Cantor’s first novel never takes an obvious turn when a stranger one might do and the result is a plot that bounces, soap-bubble like, above a world that is equal parts absurdity and whimsy…the whole thing has the air of a fable translated from a very foreign language.” —io9
"Rachel Cantor joins the ranks of authors who are able to turn philosophical concepts into whiz-bang plots, and make them funny as well. Throw in some family dysfunction, time travel, a librarian ingénue, and the possible destruction of the world, and you’ve got an adventure story replete with nerdy delights.” —Tor
It’s as if Kurt Vonnegut and Italo Calvino collaborated to write a comic book sci-fi adventure and persuaded Chagall to do the drawings. One of the freshest and mostly lively novels I have encountered for quite a while.”
—Jim Crace, author of Harvest and The Pesthouse
"A Highly Unlikely Scenario
is a joyful book, full of the energy of undiluted invention and the thoughtful imagination of a writer to watch. It's a wild ride and much more—funny, intelligent and entirely pleasing."
—A.L. Kennedy, author of Day
"Cosmic and comic, full of philosophy, mysticism and celestial whimsy. A story of listening, of souls and bodies, that is at once both profoundly wild and wildly profound."
—Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
“Part Italo Calvino, part Ray Bradbury, in this extraordinary novel, Rachel Cantor explores questions of self-knowledge, true love and family, all while saving the world—and winning readers—in the past, present, and future.”
—Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
"A sharp, witty, and immensely entertaining debut... Cantor's skill in rendering complex and highly believable characters makes for an unexpectedly moving tale."
—Emily St. John Mandel
, author of The Lola Quartet
"I didn't know I needed a mystical Jewish Douglas Adams in my life, but Rachel Cantor is it, and her Guide
makes me shep naches
every time I turn a page. Buy this book, bubeleh
! It will surprise you in ways large and small, and it will fill you with delight." —Emily Barton, author of Brookland
"[A] rambunctiously smart, pun-spiked, and sweet dystopian romantic comedy... Glimmering with 'signs and wonders' and laced with satirical jabs at technological intrusiveness and deception, Cantor’s funny and charming metaphysical adventure and love story is a wily inquiry into questions of perception, knowledge, mystery, legacy, and love."—Booklist
"Cantor’s novel will be a great hit for fans of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe
. There’s a lot going on here, and all of it is amusing." —Library JournalOne of Barnes and Noble's "7 Books for fans of George Saunders":
"Cantor’s characters, including unlikely possible prophet and pizza-chain employee Leonard, his supernaturally powerful nephew, and the woman Leonard loves, are as earnest as Saunders’ in their attempt to live good, meaningful lives in a broken society."