The Listeners by Leni Zumas

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Hypnotic and profoundly disquieting, The Listeners explores a far-out world where a patchwork of memory, sensation, and imagination maps the flickering presence of ghosts.

This is the story of a woman whose life is shaped by tragedy. Quinn is thirtysomething, a survivor of a fractured and eccentric childhood marred by the death of her younger sister. Twenty years later, she is in the midst of a decade-long slide down the other side of punk-rock stardom after her successful music career was abruptly halted. Sassy and smart, tough but broken, Quinn is at loose ends. She develops unique strategies for coping, but no matter what twisted tactic Quinn conjures to keep her psyche intact, she cannot keep the past away. The Listeners is about what lurks in the shadows and what happens when what's lurking insists on being seen.

Leni Zumas portrays a world twisted on its axis by loss, in all its grotesque beauty. From the first line the prose is glorious: pricklingly honest and hallucinatory, a lucid dream world realized. The Listeners marks the debut of a major American writer.

About Leni Zumas

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Leni Zumas's story collection, Farewell Navigator, was published by Open City in 2008. Her fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Quarterly West, Open City, Salt Hill, New Orleans Review, Keyhole, and New York Tyrant.
Published May 8, 2012 by Tin House Books. 354 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Arts & Photography. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Listeners

Publishers Weekly

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Zumas’s debut novel comes at the reader in over a hundred self-contained, lucid pieces: a visit to a doctor in which Quinn, the teenage narrator, is ominously evasive about her weight loss;

Mar 05 2012 | Read Full Review of The Listeners

City Book Review

Veracious and intelligent, The Listeners is a rhythmic and intense story about a unique woman, a punk-rocker, in her mid-thirties who deals every moment with guilt she bears from two separate incidents in her life that shaped her view of the world.

Oct 11 2012 | Read Full Review of The Listeners

Portland Book Review

Into this world comes music, which provides a release, until her career as a punk rock singer is cut short through an accident and a decision that becomes one more part of the past that cannot be acknowledged.

May 15 2012 | Read Full Review of The Listeners

Shelf Awareness

Jeff Kinney and Brian Selznick took the top prizes last night at a gala to kick off Children's Book Week (May 7-13).

May 08 2012 | Read Full Review of The Listeners

Full Stop

Remembering her first favorite band, Quinn thinks: “The sounds this band made were torn wings, crusts of glitter hills, valleys of black flame, clouds cut in three by red lightning, bluish brain rising from cankered feet.” The chapters jump around in time: from the present, back to Quinn’s child...

May 17 2012 | Read Full Review of The Listeners

Pank Magazine

I understand that they come from Quinn’s musicality, that they fit with the character, that other people might love the bouncing sentences and alliteration, just as I loved the spot-on dialogue, the moments that fired me, when they came.

Sep 06 2012 | Read Full Review of The Listeners

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