A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois
A Novel

76%

20 Critic Reviews

...a brilliantly executed novel by a young woman of enormous talent. She displays a control usually seen only in the finest writers at the top of their game, and many readers will be captivated throughout the story.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

FINALIST FOR THE PEN/HEMINGWAY PRIZE FOR DEBUT FICTION
 
In Jennifer duBois’s mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds. With uncommon perception and wit, duBois explores the power of memory, the depths of human courage, and the endurance of love.
 
NAMED BY THE NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION AS A 5 UNDER 35 AUTHOR • WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD GOLD MEDAL FOR FIRST FICTION • WINNER OF THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

“Astonishingly beautiful and brainy . . . [a] stunning novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“I can’t remember reading another novel—at least not recently—that’s both incredibly intelligent and also emotionally engaging.”—Nancy Pearl, NPR
 
In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest: He launches a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win—and that he is risking his life in the process—but a deeper conviction propels him forward.
 
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison struggles for a sense of purpose. Irina is certain she has inherited Huntington’s disease—the same cruel illness that ended her father’s life. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father wrote to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father asked the chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed in a lost cause?—but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Salon • BookPage
 
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
Praise for A Partial History of Lost Causes
 
“A thrilling debut . . . [Jennifer] DuBois writes with haunting richness and fierce intelligence. . . . Full of bravado, insight, and clarity.”—Elle
 
“DuBois is precise and unsentimental. . . . She moves with a magician’s control between points of view, continents, histories, and sympathies.”—The New Yorker
 
“A real page-turner . . . a psychological thriller of great nuance and complexity.”—The Dallas Morning News
 
“Terrific . . . In urgent fashion, duBois deftly evokes Russia’s political and social metamorphosis over the past thirty years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Hilarious and heartbreaking and a triumph of the imagination.”—Gary Shteyngart
 

About Jennifer DuBois

See more books from this Author
JENNIFER DUBOIS' A Partial History of Lost Causes was one of the most acclaimed debuts of 2012. It was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Prize for Debut Fiction and the National Book Foundation named her one of its 5 Under 35 Authors. O: The Oprah Magazine chose it as one of the ten best books of the year. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, duBois recently completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. She is twenty-nine years old.



Author Residence: Austin, TX



Author Hometown: Northampton, MA
 
Published March 20, 2012 by The Dial Press. 402 pages
Genres: Romance, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for A Partial History of Lost Causes
All: 20 | Positive: 15 | Negative: 5

Kirkus

Below average
Dec 25 2011

Dubois’ impressive mastery of her Russian material makes one hopeful for a more credible story line next time around.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Laura Bennett on Mar 16 2012

DuBois tells a tight story with boldface themes. Drama is constant. Conversations get right to the point. Everything means something.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Nov 07 2011

Dubois deftly evokes Russia’s political and social metamorphosis over the past 30 years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship.

Read Full Review of A Partial History of Lost Cau... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Wall Street Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Mar 17 2012

Ultimately, Irina's self-aware, chatterbox internal monologue deprives her struggle with mortality of the gravitas that the author seeks.

Read Full Review of A Partial History of Lost Cau... | See more reviews from Wall Street Journal

Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Rox Shea on Mar 22 2012

duBois tells this gripping tale of political intrigue, romantic idealism, pathos and triumph over crushing obstacles in a political thriller at once heartwarming and heartbreaking.

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Michel Basilieres on Apr 07 2012

...a brilliantly executed novel by a young woman of enormous talent. She displays a control usually seen only in the finest writers at the top of their game, and many readers will be captivated throughout the story.

Read Full Review of A Partial History of Lost Cau... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Christian Science Monitor

Below average
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp on Apr 11 2012

...the plot starts to sprawl out of control near the end, when Dubois abandons chess for a political thriller.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Bob Blaisdell on Mar 25 2012

duBois needlessly tosses her heroine into a political romance thriller and mercilessly pursues and knots up "loose ends."... the tighter and tighter interweavings of the plot sometimes suffocate.

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Dallas News

Excellent
Reviewed by Tim Redman on Mar 31 2012

The novel, a real page-turner, is a psychological thriller of great nuance and complexity.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Rimas Blekaitis

It is a fascinating novel that rewards its readers with memorable characters and beautiful, lyrical prose.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Mythili Rao on Apr 06 2012

The symmetry of its plot is one of this novel’s pleasures, but that’s not all A Partial History of Lost Causes has to offer.

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Oprah.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Karen Holt on Mar 16 2012

...astonishingly beautiful and brainy debut novel

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Time Out New York

Excellent
Reviewed by Timothy Bracy on Mar 28 2012

Jennifer duBois’s debut novel is an ambitious and remarkably assured work, one that adroitly achieves the daunting task of commingling love, chess, Russian politics and the ravages of terminal illness into a coherent and moving narrative.

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Slant Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Sumanth Prabhaker on Mar 20 2012

There are some brilliant passages and more compulsive ones, culminating in an ending as quick and satisfying as a checkmate

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Narrative Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Cathi on Feb 20 2012

A Partial History of Lost Causes will uplift you and break your heart. It is a treasure for those readers who love chess, history, rich characterization, or those who have lost causes of their own.

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Luxury Reading

Good
Reviewed by Nina Longfield on Mar 25 2012

A Partial History of Lost Causes is beautiful and sad. DuBois’ writing is fluid. With little effort, she seems to capture the mood of her characters and their setting.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg

...a deeply thoughtful novel, a pensive, multilayered look at a culture in transition and the lives of the two complex, memorable characters at its core.

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She Treads Softly Blog

Below average
Reviewed by Lori L. on Apr 05 2012

Eventually, I did end up feeling somewhat detached from the characters... as A Partial History of Lost Causes progressed, my interest in what would happen to both Aleksandr and Irina lessened.

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Everyday eBook

Good
Reviewed by Richard Callison on Mar 29 2012

Jennifer DuBois is a truly talented young writer whose words are epic, beautiful, and mesmerizing. This is a truly heartfelt novel that will resonate with you well beyond its perfect ending.

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BookNAround

Good
Reviewed by Kristen on Mar 29 2012

DuBois is a very talented writer and the book is one that will haunt me for some time

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