Cobble Hill

New novel ‘The Fugitives’ is ‘Thoughtful, Full of Action’

Brooklyn BookBeat: Author to Read in Cobble Hill

January 22, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Author Christopher Sorrentino will speak about his new book at BookCourt in Cobble Hill on Feb. 9. Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster
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In “The Fugitives” (Feb. 9, Simon & Schuster), National Book Award finalist Christopher Sorrentino (“Trance,” 2005) pulls off a clever literary feat. He packages a powerful meditation on race and identity, love and obsession, and compulsion and free will into a novel that moves like a good old-fashioned caper. The result is wholly engaging, a book that is “thoughtful but full of action — and a pleasing entertainment, too” (Kirkus Reviews).

The author will appear at BookCourt in Cobble Hill on Feb. 9 (7 p.m., 163 Court St.), to read from and discuss his book.

The premise is simple: A man takes leave of his big-city life after personal disaster and seeks refuge in a remote Midwestern town. He reinvents himself there to escape his past and tarnished professional reputation, but it turns out he can only take his charade so far before others — who also are not fully what they seem — force him to confront his true self.

Complications emerge as Sandy Mulligan, the disgraced writer, pursues a relationship with Kat Danhoff, a Chicago reporter with secrets of her own. They first encounter each other in a most unusual way: while listening to the native Ojibway storyteller John Salteau at a local library. Danhoff believes Salteau relates to her investigation of a supposed casino theft. Mulligan knows nothing of this, or of Danhoff’s life in Chicago, when he befriends her and begins telling a colorful version of his own story.

“Trance” was hailed as and “full-blooded … hilarious, satiric” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “a brilliant hallucinatory fever dream of Americana,” (Seattle Weekly) and elicited comparisons to Don DeLillo and Philip Roth. With “The Fugitives,” Sorrentino puts the reader in Elmore Leonard-land — in this case, Cherry City, Michigan — and that’s exactly the kind of mood Sorrentino evokes: unnerving, desolate, full of warm corners in shady places (casinos, hotels, diners).

At once a love story, a ghost story and a crime thriller, “The Fugitives” dazzles with incisive descriptions, crackling dialogue and devastating observations while keeping the reader on his or her toes with a steady undertow of danger. It is also a cautionary tale of 21st-century American life — a meditation on the meaning of identity, on the role storytelling plays in our understanding of ourselves and each other and on the difficulty of making genuine connections in a world that’s connected in almost every way.

Christopher Sorrentino is the author of five books, including the National Book Award Finalist “Trance.” His work has appeared in Esquire, Granta, Harper’s, The New York Times, Tin House and many other publications. He lives in New York City.


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