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Red Pill: A novel (Hardcover)
From the widely acclaimed author of White Tears, a bold new novel about searching for order in a world that frames madness as truth.
After receiving a prestigious writing fellowship in Germany, the narrator of Red Pill arrives in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee and struggles to accomplish anything at all. Instead of working on the book he has proposed to write, he takes long walks and binge-watches Blue Lives--a violent cop show that becomes weirdly compelling in its bleak, Darwinian view of life--and soon begins to wonder if his writing has any value at all.
Wannsee is a place full of ghosts: Across the lake, the narrator can see the villa where the Nazis planned the Final Solution, and in his walks he passes the grave of the Romantic writer Heinrich von Kleist, who killed himself after deciding that "no happiness was possible here on earth." When some friends drag him to a party where he meets Anton, the creator of Blue Lives, the narrator begins to believe that the two of them are involved in a cosmic battle, and that Anton is "red-pilling" his viewers--turning them toward an ugly, alt-rightish worldview--ultimately forcing the narrator to wonder if he is losing his mind.
About the Author
HARI KUNZRU is the author of five previous novels: White Tears, The Impressionist, Transmission, My Revolutions, and Gods Without Men. His work has been translated into twenty-one languages, and his short stories and journalism have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and The New Yorker. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Public Library, and the American Academy in Berlin. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
“An absorbing parable of contemporary paranoia . . . Mr. Kunzru has always paired his sharp, elegant prose with visions of pandemonium . . . Current events, he suggests, illustrate the madness of the world more effectively than any literary device.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“Kunzru finds the humor and humanity in it all, but even as the story spirals into well-earned hysteria, he never downplays the severity of the mental derangement unfolding on both sides of the aisle in a post-truth era, nor the ways each can intersect in the realm of conspiracy.”
—Randall Colburn, The A.V. Club
“Hari Kunzru’s new book Red Pill is the Gen X Midlife-Crisis Novel in its purest form . . . A funny and suspenseful novel, dense with ideas, deliciously plotted, and generous with its satirical acid.”
—Christian Lorentzen, Bookforum
“Deeply intelligent and artfully constructed . . . Kunzru devotes a lengthy — and riveting — section of the book to Monika’s story, vividly evoking the scruffy flats and sordid betrayals of East Berlin in the mid-1980s . . . For some writers, the gently comic potential of [Red Pill’s] set-up would be enough. But Kunzru is too ambitious to be satisfied by academic farce.”
—Jonathan Derbyshire, Financial Times
“Razor-sharp . . . as an allegory about how well-meaning liberals have been blindsided by pseudo-intellectual bigots with substantial platforms, it’s bleak but compelling . . . ‘Kafkaesque’ is an overused term, but it’s an apt one for this dark tale of fear and injustice.”
“Dazzling . . . Kunzru has created a complex, challenging, and bold story about a world gone amok. . ."
“Powerful . . . Kunzru does an excellent job of layering the atmosphere with fear and disquietude at every turning point. This nightmarish allegory leaves the reader with much to chew on about literature’s role in the battleground of ideas.”