A protest against America's mass incarceration, an underdog sports odyssey, and a tender portrait of lives going to seed in suburban New Jersey - the extraordinary new novel from the author of A NAKED SINGULARITY
"Ambitious, affecting, intelligent, plangent, comic, kooky and impassioned. I've read a lot of novels this year, between judging the Man Booker prize and the Granta Best of Young British Novelists, and I've yearned for this kind of exuberant, precise fiction" Stuart Kelly, Guardian on A NAKED SINGULARITY
It would take something huge to put Paterson, New Jersey on the map.
But Nina Gill is determined to do just that. She is the daughter of the ageing owner of the Dallas Cowboys and the well-kept secret to their success. Shocked when her brother inherits the team, leaving her with the Paterson Pork, New Jersey's only Indoor Football League franchise, she vows to take on the N.F.L. and make her new team the pigskin kings of America.
Meanwhile, Nuno DeAngeles - a brilliant criminal mastermind - contrives to be thrown into Rikers Island prison to commit one of the most audacious crimes of all time. Now he's on the inside, he has two good reasons to get out. But how does a person of culture go about breaking out of the penal system when the whole of the land of the free is addicted to keeping him in it?
Without knowing it, or ever having met, Nina and Nuno have already had a profound effect on each other's lives. As his bid for freedom and her bid for sporting immortality reach crisis point, their stories converge in the countdown to an epic conclusion.
Thrilling, touching, insightful and shockingly hilarious, De La Pava's extraordinary novel gets under the skin and into the minds of a vast cast of characters from the fringes of society - immigrants, exiles and outsiders.
Impressive in its vigour and virtuosity, pleasing in its exuberant fancy, admirable doubtless in its commitment to questions of social justice and its indictment of the reality of the American criminal justice system with its mass incarceration . . . There are echoes also of Joseph Heller's Catch 22, a novel which employed the absurd in order to expose absurdity. - Scotsman.
A formally ambitious, loopy, freewheeling, angry, expansive patchwork of intertwined voices . . . By the time we reach the dizzying, desperate final act (featuring a prison break, romance, one of the most gripping David and Goliath matches in fiction and the possible end of time) we are exhausted - but entertained. - Daily Telegraph.
Lost Empress is zealous and unruly, jolting and uproarious . . . a brawler, a spoiler, a broad societal farce . . . Reading it is a little like being accosted by a brilliant conspiracy theorist on the night bus home. - Guardian.
The great achievement of Lost Empress is that its impressive feats of literary-cultural allusion, formal experiment, philosophical musing and canny satire are often balanced by, and eventually become secondary to, old-fashioned, flat-out, suspenseful story-telling. - New Statesman.
De La Pava is a maximalist worldbuilder, and the incredible multiverse he constructs in this book
establishes him as one of the most fearsomely talented American novelists working today. - Publishers Weekly.
De la Pava himself can seem like an avenging angel, at least for those with a certain view of what ails contemporary American literature - The New Yorker
Sergio de la Pava's expansive new novel, Lost Empress, a 600-page melting pot of criminal-justice policy, American football and metaphysics . . . The book oscillates between hilarious surrealism and shocking reality . . . With messianic fervour, he conjures up marginalised voices and the horrors of mass incarceration, against a backbeat of sporting thrills and that apocalyptic crescendo. - Economist
A tour de force that puts De La Pava in rarified company, like Tom Robbins meets Thomas Pynchon . . . Think screwball comedy with a Stephen Hawking twist . . The method behind the madness is, well, brilliant. - Dallas News.
Sergio de la Pava is the author of the novels A Naked Singularity and Personae. A Naked Singularity won the PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction in 2013 and was shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize in the UK, Personae received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly and extraordinary critical praise. De la Pava is an attorney in New York City where he represents indigent defendants and advocates for large-scale criminal justice reforms.