Pym by Mat Johnson
A Novel

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So potent is the flawed narrative that nearly two centuries after its initial publication it still calls for a response. In his grave, Poe may be at least a little amused at Johnson’s attempt to provide one.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

“THE SHARPEST AND MOST UNUSUAL STORY I READ LAST YEAR . . . [Mat] Johnson’s satirical vision roves as freely as Kurt Vonnegut’s and is colored with the same sort of passionate humanitarianism.”—Maud Newton, New York Times Magazine

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • Vanity Fair • Houston Chronicle • The Seattle Times • Salon • National Post The A.V. Club
 
Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes has just made a startling discovery: the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that confirms the reality of Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Determined to seek out Tsalal, the remote island of pure and utter blackness that Poe describes, Jaynes convenes an all-black crew of six to follow Pym’s trail to the South Pole, armed with little but the firsthand account from which Poe derived his seafaring tale, a bag of bones, and a stash of Little Debbie snack cakes. Thus begins an epic journey by an unlikely band of adventurers under the permafrost of Antarctica, beneath the surface of American history, and behind one of literature’s great mysteries.
 
“Outrageously entertaining, [Pym] brilliantly re-imagines and extends Edgar Allan Poe’s enigmatic and unsettling Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. . . . Part social satire, part meditation on race in America, part metafiction and, just as important, a rollicking fantasy adventure . . . reminiscent of Philip Roth in its seemingly effortless blend of the serious, comic and fantastic.”—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

“Blisteringly funny.”—Laura Miller, Salon

“Relentlessly entertaining.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Imagine Kurt Vonnegut having a beer with Ralph Ellison and Jules Verne.”—Vanity Fair

“Screamingly funny . . . Reading Pym is like opening a big can of whoop-ass and then marveling—gleefully—at all the mayhem that ensues.”—Houston Chronicle
 

About Mat Johnson

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Mat Johnson received his MFA from Columbia University. He returned to his native Philadelphia, with his wife and daughter, after living in Harlem for several years. "Drop" is his first novel. Life Sucks was written by Jessica Abel and Gabe Soria, with art by Warren Pleece. Jessica Abel is one of the foremost female comics creators in the industry. She and her husband teach courses on creating comics at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and have co-written the textbook based on their classes, "Drawing Words and Writing Pictures," also out this season from First Second. Gabe Soria is a Brooklyn-based music journalist and has written "Batman Adventures," Warren Pleece is a British comics artist who has worked on numerous projects, including "The Invisibles" and "Hellblazer,
 
Published March 1, 2011 by Spiegel & Grau. 338 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Science & Math, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction
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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Philip Marchand on Apr 08 2011

So potent is the flawed narrative that nearly two centuries after its initial publication it still calls for a response. In his grave, Poe may be at least a little amused at Johnson’s attempt to provide one.

Read Full Review of Pym: A Novel | See more reviews from National Post arts

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