Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Maxwell’s Demon

by Steven Hall

Fourteen years after the monumental publication of the international bestseller The Raw Shark Texts, Maxwell’s Demon heralds the triumphant return of Granta Best Young British Novelist Steven Hall

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date April 06, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4920-6
  • Dimensions 6.00" x 8.45"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date April 06, 2021
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4922-0
  • US List Price $26.00

Thomas Quinn is having a hard time. A failed novelist, he’s stuck writing short stories and audio scripts for other people’s characters. His wife, Imogen, is working on a remote island halfway around the world, and talking to her over the webcam isn’t the same. The bills are piling up, the dirty dishes are stacking in the sink, and the whole world seems to be hurtling towards entropic collapse. Then he gets a voicemail from his father, who has been dead for seven years.

Thomas’s relationship with Stanley Quinn—a world-famous writer and erstwhile absent father—was always shaky, not least because Stanley always seemed to prefer his enigmatic assistant and protégé Andrew Black to his own son. Yet after Black published his first book, Cupid’s Engine, which went on to sell over a million copies, he disappeared completely. Now strange things are happening to Thomas, and he can’t help but wonder if Black is tugging at the seams of his world behind the scenes.

Absurdly brilliant, wildly entertaining, and utterly mind-bending, Maxwell’s Demon triumphantly excavates the ways we construct meaning in a world where chaotic collapse looms closer every day.

Praise for Maxwell’s Demon:

Named a Most Anticipated Book by the Guardian

“A wonderfully imaginative, splendidly baroque novel that is a combination of the baffling, teasing, and tantalizing. Part fantasy, part mystery, it is altogether delightful and filled with surprises—in a word, exceptional. No, make that two words; the second is fantastic. A rare, sui generis treat.”—Booklist (starred review)

“[A] phantasmagoric novel with shades of Stephen King’s The Dark Half . . . There’s really nothing like this book—long contemplations of philosophy, personality, religion, and history are all woven into something of a mystery in which no one is truly reliable. With influences that recall Fight Club and Motherless Brooklyn, Hall manages to put a whole world on the page that shifts and changes as weirdly and wildly as the ones in the novel’s fictional books. The modern novel’s version of a Möbius strip, written with verve and a vast appreciation for the power of language.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Ingeniously plotted and compulsively well-paced, a blend of detective story and science fiction with an epistemology course thrown in.”—Sunday Times

“A postmodern mystery . . . Ingenious fun . . . Showily postmodern, full of odd typographical elements, altered realities and intertextual jokes . . . Maxwell’s Demon is consistently fun and often impressive.”—Guardian, “Book of the Day”

“An entropic and sprawling mystery . . . Mind-twisting . . . Introspective and philosophical, the novel explores the dangers that occur when fatalistic urges take over.”—New Statesman

“Written in the first person and paced like a thriller, there’s an intimacy and immediacy that quickly grips, and even the long digressions on theory—a trademark of the form—are enjoyable to read.”Spectator

“It’s Raymond Chandler meets Dan Brown meets Albert Einstein. Meets Christopher Nolan. Meets Jorge Luis Borges. It’s a mind-expanding page-turning adventure-mystery that crackles with intelligence and intrigue; a book about books (sort of) that’s been beautifully rendered in book form.”—Foyles

“A postmodern literary thriller about a difficult second novel . . . Anyone who has a taste for postmodern hijinks—fans of Thomas Pynchon or Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves—will be drawn to the menace and profusion, the game-like brilliance and black hilarity of Maxwell’s Demon.”—Australian

“A Pynchonesque, footnote- and theory-heavy mystery novel that’s as postmodern as they come, and—or but, depending on the reader—it’s superb . . . The novel’s abiding theme is the joy of reading—always a risky ground for authors to tread. After all, your own book has to be completely lovable—which, thankfully, Maxwell’s Demon is.”—Telegraph

“Moves at an exhilarating lick, as befits its pop culture propensities, but with highbrow sensibilities, its concerns including the Kabbalah, whether the world is made of words, the origins of the alphabet, the mythopoetic nature of the hero’s journey and what angels look like . . . The genius of the book is that despite it seeming like an elegant orrery, all these wheels within wheels are a carapace, a psychic armor against a grief (and it’s not the grief you were expecting). Beneath this truly beautiful astrolabe is a beating human heart.”—Scotsman

“With Maxwell’s Demon, Steven Hall has created a kaleidoscopic, disconcerting God game in which reality itself is thrown into deep shape-shifting shade. In an era of ‘alternative truths’ — when what we believe to be authentic is often just another spurious story; when chaos and order, fiction and entropy are quicksand underfoot — this novel couldn’t be more timely. Like David Mitchell, Mark Z. Danielewski, and the Christopher Nolan of Inception, Hall has created his own unique world in which readers take a journey as mercurial and unexpected as life itself. Maxwell’s Dream is a radiant and unique achievement.”—Bradford Morrow, author of The Forger’s Daughter

“Labyrinthine, mind-twisting and deliciously diabolical, yet also unexpectedly warm-hearted. Maxwell’s Demon is fantastic.”—Christopher Brookmyre, author of The Last Hack

“Dazzlingly clever, wickedly playful, devastatingly poignant.”—M.R. Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts

“A cracking detective story that seems to be investigating its own existence.”—Jeff Noon

“Anyone who enjoyed The Raw Shark Texts will be delighted.”—Toby Litt

Praise for The Raw Shark Texts:

“In Hall’s buoyant fantasy, which reads as if it were concocted by a team of media-savvy undergraduates flinging together chunks of Alice in Wonderland and The Hunting of the Snark, Jaws, The Matrix, Memento, Harry Potter, Haruki Murakami, Paul Auster, and Stephen King, as well as Carl Jung, triumphant . . . Rendered with the precise attentiveness to psychological states of mind worthy of a hyperventilating James Joyce . . . The Raw Shark Texts is that most good-hearted of dark fantasies: one in which cranky old cats at sea in tiny dinghies will make it safely to shore, whatever the fate of their masters.”—Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books

“Wonderfully ambitious, even exuberantly so. At times, it seems as if Hall must have written it while hopping up and down with excitement, like a 6-year-old recounting his first trip to the circus. Paced like a thriller, the book thinks like a French theorist and reads like a deluge. The end result is a fun, quirky, very British love story . . . Herman Melville meets Michael Crichton, or Thomas Pynchon meets Douglas Adams. No matter, the book is full of big, wild ideas brought to gloriously convoluted fruition . . . An engrossing, delirious and perfectly wacky book.”San Francisco Chronicle

Jaws by way of Jung.”New York Times Book Review

“The star of Steven Hall’s rousingly inventive The Raw Shark Texts is its villain—always a good sign in a thriller . . . [Hall’s] real achievement is to create a bizarre and sinister world where language and ideas exist like a stream of nutrients, spawning predators and parasites . . . It’s all a lot of fun, yet there is also a surprising emotional resonance . . . Best of all, there is the shark itself, wily and relentless, with its chilling eye and gaping maw, hungry for memory.”Washington Post

The Raw Shark Texts is so much more than a clever, playful book, though it is both those things. Steven Hall has worked hard to build on the work of his intellectual ancestors . . . Paul Auster, Philip K. Dick, Haruki Murakami, Steve Erickson, Ursula K. Le Guin—to say nothing of Beckett and Borges and Kafka . . . His writing, description as well as dialogue, is sharp and clear, which is extremely important when you are writing on the edge of the form.”Los Angeles Times

“Hyperactively playful . . . An astute reader will find dozens of playful allusions in The Raw Shark Texts to the work of Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami, borrowed textual devices from Jonathan Safran Foer and Mark Z. Danielewski, intellectual gags based on the work of Italo Calvino and a giant shark that comes right out of the work of Peter Benchley.”Newsday

The Raw Shark Texts manages to reach the loftiest goal of speculative fiction: making its outlandish situations illuminate real human emotion . . . A metaphysical book such as this easily could have become dense and inaccessible, but Hall’s unrelenting focus on visual storytelling keeps it lucid . . . Fully succeeds in exploring the tenuous hold we have on our sense of self.”USA Today

“What is summer without some sharks? The Raw Shark Texts is an elliptical tale of lost memory and concomitant mystery . . . Amazingly complex, The Raw Shark Texts is part Mary Shelley, part Sigmund Freud, part thriller, part Hegelian dialectic and totally engaging.”Baltimore Sun

The Raw Shark Texts is the latest in unforgettable fiction . . . Sanderson’s cat-and-mouse search for the shark unveils a hidden world—solid, real, and vividly imagined by Hall . . . Hall pulls it all off with such élan and good humor (and the most charmingly irreverent disregard for coherent plotting since the early work of Jonathan Lethem) that ultimately you’re charmed to have climbed into his conceptual shark cage.”Playboy (3 stars)

“It’s rare to finish a book and know—know beyond s shadow of a doubt—that you’ll think about that one for a while . . . Steven Hall is the author of 2007 . . . The Raw Shark Texts is the most original and fascinating, if bewildering, book you are likely to read this year.”Tampa Tribune

“Imagine Jaws as a literary mash-up eating its way through the contemporary information explosion. Now, imagine this creature has developed a taste for you and only you. Hall pushes the boundaries of fiction and design in this unique first novel.”Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Told with poetic accuracy . . . This book is going to be a huge success; the movie is already optioned and the computer game can’t be far behind. Wait for these versions, however, and you deprive yourself of its sheer verbal pleasure . . . Hall . . . write[s] so vividly that you can imagine ideas themselves coming alive . . . Finishing the story makes you wonder if the whole thing, the book and your reading of it, was a dream (and fiercely hoping it wasn’t).”Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Raw Shark Texts is a compelling, thought-provoking, page-turning read. Like Stephen King and other writers who detour through the supernatural, Mr. Hall spins a pliant, devilishly tactile prose style.”—Dallas Morning News

“If your local bookstore has a Hip-Lit section, Steven Hall’s first novel is top-shelf . . . Place it among Hip-Lit favorites by David Mitchell and Haruki Murakami . . . A fluid, fast-paced thriller . . . The narrative is brisk, with rough edges that have the action passages erupting in sweat and strained muscles. ‘Raw’ in the book means different species of texts that give the story its sense of immediacy.”Oregonian

“His work is wild, his work is wicked, and his work is unlike any other work you have ever read . . . Dubbed slipstream by the pulp literati, Hall’s oeuvre encompasses all the sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, and realism that the tag suggests, and then twists the lot of ’em into a whole new further . . . There really are no precedents for what Hall has pulled off . . . Hall catches where catch too often can’t, and in the doing he’s digging a deep that’s as blue as it is menacing.”Miami Sun Post

“If Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami collaborated on Moby-Dick crossed with The Wizard of Oz, they might produce something like Hall’s deliriously ambitious debut . . . Riveting . . . A narrative feat of hallucinatory imagination.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“What can you say about a first novel that’s been sold to 32 countries, was pushed by authors as diverse as Mark Z. Danielewski and Chuck Palahniuk, and received front-page coverage in the New York Times business section? Hall is such a hit that the publisher won’t even reveal what he’s up to next.”Library Journal

“A psychological thriller with shades of Memento and The Matrix and the fiction of Mark Danielewski; page-turning, playful and chilling by turns.”Guardian

“The book justifies the hype . . . An innovative, postmodern, metafictional novel . . . The most original reading experience of the year . . . A literary novel that’s more out there than most science fiction . . . Genuinely isn’t like anything you have ever read before, and could be as big an inspiration to the next generation of writers as Auster and Murakami have been to Hall.”Independent

“An avant-garde thriller in which these devil-fish of the unconscious somehow escape the symbolic realm, or rather, we join them on their side of the border . . . The Raw Shark Texts unfolds not in sleek cyberspace, but inside the post-Freudian human self, with its layers, its pungent humours, its debris left over from construction, and its monsters of the deep . . . Jaws meets Alice in Wonderland.”Times Literary Supplement