LONGLISTED FOR THE 2016 CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE
A dazzling literary debut about three lives colliding in 80s downtown New York
On the eve of 1980, downtown New York is the centre of the universe. Here are the artistes and the socialites, the dealers, collectors, bartenders, freaks, party-goers and hangers-on-all looking to make it in the big city, teetering on the brink of selling out, searching for something to save them.
Among them is painter Raul Engales, in exile from Argentina's Dirty War and his own past. Fresh on the downtown scene and posing as an art student, he has just caught the eye of New York's most infamous art critic: James Bennett.
James has synaesthesia, experiencing life and art in wild, magical ways. He sees pictures as starbursts and fireworks, smells citrus when he says 'mother', and hears songs when he looks at sculptures. Art is James' gateway to endless new sensations, the secret to his success. In this city, his name is a byword for good taste - until the day his gift deserts him.
And then there's Lucy: Raul's eager blonde muse. Newly escaped from the suburban nothingness of Idaho, impossibly young and still untouched by urban ennui, she is drawn like a firefly to the electric brilliance of the city-and especially to its artists. Lucy will become first Raul's lover and then-foolishly, inevitably-James's.
Over the course of one year, these three lives collide and remake each other. A brand new decade has just begun and New York is a crucible brimming with the energy of a million secret metamorphoses, poised to spill forth art, destruction and life itself into the waiting world.
- Hamish Hamilton
- Published 7th April 2016
- 336 Pages
- 153mm x 234mm x 24mm