Lowboy by John Wray
A Novel

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Early one morning in New York City, Will Heller, a sixteen-yearold paranoid schizophrenic, gets on an uptown B train alone. Like most people he knows, Will believes the world is being destroyed by climate change; unlike most people, he's convinced he can do something about it. Unknown to his doctors, unknown to the police—unknown even to Violet Heller, his devoted mother—Will alone holds the key to the planet's salvation. To cool down the world, he has to cool down his own overheating body: to cool down his body, he has to find one willing girl. And he already has someone in mind.

Lowboy, John Wray's third novel, tells the story of Will's fantastic and terrifying odyssey through the city's tunnels, back alleys, and streets in search of Emily Wallace, his one great hope, and of Violet Heller's desperate attempts to locate her son before psychosis claims him completely. She is joined by Ali Lateef, a missing-persons specialist, who gradually comes to discover that more is at stake than the recovery of a runaway teen: Violet—beautiful, enigmatic, and as profoundly at odds with the world as her son—harbors a secret that Lateef will discover at his own peril.

Suspenseful and comic, devastating and hopeful by turns, Lowboy is a fearless exploration of youth, sex, and violence in contemporary America, seen through one boy's haunting and extraordinary vision.


About John Wray

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John Wray was born in Washington, D.C., and has since lived in Texas, Alaska, Chile, and New York. His first novel, The Right Hand of Sleep, was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Wray is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published March 3, 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 272 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lowboy

The New York Times

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In this gripping novel, a disturbed boy with a subway fixation thinks he has 10 hours to save the world.

Mar 01 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

AV Club

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The split points of view and the psychotic imagery are just two of the things that make this novel remarkable.

Mar 12 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

Open Letters Monthly

It’s the story of young, off-his-meds William Heller, who’s escaped from the institute where he’s been committed and is hiding out on the New York City subway system he’s studied and loves.

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Tampa Bay Times

Always psychologically astute, Wray's razor-edged prose illuminates Will's character — a kind of hybrid of Holden Caulfield and Augie March — and ratchets up the tension as Will struggles to hold it together.

May 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

MostlyFiction Book Reviews

The chapters alternate between ones that are in Lowboy’s voice and others that are from the vantage point of the detective, Ali Lateef, and Lowboy’s mother, Yda, who are searching for Lowboy.

Nov 11 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

Lowboy also represents Wray’s arrival as a major author, even though the story is in many ways a conventional one in which the hero of modest means sets out into the world with an enormous task, encounters a number of obstacles, comes to some new realization about his condition and finds a degree...

Mar 02 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

The New Yorker

I’ve been waiting for a Bookspotting to appear on this blog about John Wray’s new novel, “Lowboy.” After all, Charles Bock, in the Times Book Review, wrote: “I’d be proud to be seen reading this novel on the downtown 6,...I’ve been waiting for a Bookspotting to appear on this blog about John Wray...

Mar 09 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

The New Zealand Herald

- Wernher von Braun.

Jul 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel


The third chapter of Lowboy – in which he sits on a train platform looking at a twenty dollar bill, in which he is introduced to the character of Heather Covington, in which Lowboy is taken by the hand into the subway tunnels and almost but not quite ravished – is the first point in reading this ...

Mar 22 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

APOOO Bookclub

This is a much needed story as mental illness is still a taboo subject in the United States and you will see that we have not made much progress besides making people who suffer from mental illness invisible when they make us uncomfortable.

Aug 09 2009 | Read Full Review of Lowboy: A Novel

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