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 had to be big to put Paterson, New Jersey on the map.
And there's folk who would have muttered - if you told them that their unlovable corner of America would be thrust into the spotlight - sign of the end times.
Hell, they might even be right.
But Nina Gill is determined to do just that. Daughter of the aging owner of the Dallas Cowboys - and the well-kept secret to their success - she is 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 NFL and make the Paterson Pork pigskin kings of America.
Meanwhile, Nuno DeAngeles - a brilliant criminal mastermind - has gotten himself thrown into Rikers Island prison to commit perhaps the most audacious crime of all time. And now he's on the inside, he has two good reasons to get out. But how does a person of colour go about breaking out of the penal system when the whole of the land of the free is addicted to keeping him in it?
And, besides - like everyone else - Nuno DeAngeles is running out of . . . time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If Thomas Pynchon and Elmore Leonard had conspired to write North Dallas Forty, this might be the result: a madcap, football-obsessed tale of crossed destinies and criminal plots gone awry . . . A whirling vortex of a novel, confusing, misdirecting, and surprising-and a lot of fun. - Kirkus Reviews.
A hilarious, smart, and madcap novel that occupies the porous border between comedy and drama, science and philosophy, story and dream, grim reality and pure imagination. A singular achievement. I've never read anything like it.
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.