Thursday, February 3, 2011

The breakout novel of 2011?

Every year, we see one or two breakout novels by new writers that suddenly capture the public's attention.

These are notoriously unpredictable, but here's my prediction anyway. The novel with the best shot at that title is just released this week: 

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore.

The novel is narrated by the world's first chimpanzee to speak. He tells it from prison, where he's been detained for murder. 

Here's what I wrote about it last month for The Hipster Book Club, in an entry titled Five Gems You Haven't Read (scroll down toward the bottom for my entry):

I got my first taste of Bruno at a reading in an East Village Bar this fall. I was kind of dreading it. The first reader earned my revulsion. Benjamin won me back. Bruno bit into a peach, and it was so vivid I could taste the spattered nectar filling the room.

Bruno is our narrator, and a chimpanzee. That could go horribly wrong. Or make for one hell of a romp. Guess which landed him on this list.

. . . Listening, watching, tasting, smelling...understanding. You can't spill it onto the page unless you absorbed it as it wafted by. Every author on this list understands that. And infuses it.
Each page, I love this book more. I'm a slow reader, so I'm still making my way through it, but relishing every line.

You will be hearing much more from Benjamin Hale. He's got incredible talent, and twenty years from now, he may well be considered one of the great writers of this generation.

And I've met him a couple times, too. Very nice guy. It's great to meet gifted creative people with unswelled heads.

You can check out Ben's dazzling prose in an online excerpt. It's getting rave reviews, with a big one coming in this weekend's NY Time Book Review.

Chuck Palahniuk's site is also going to do something with him--I think an interview. I know their critic, and he was blown away by it.

The book made B&N's Discover Great New Writers program, which I believe means it will be 20% off in all there stores for a few months. It's on Amazon, and in all the bookstores. Check it out.

And if you live in NYC, the book launch event is tonight at BookCourt in Brooklyn. He'll be in Manhattan early next week. National tour schedule here. (Chicago, Denver, Iowa, Arkansas, etc.)

You have never read anything quite like this, and I think you're going to like it.

Friday Update:

The Brooklyn event was standing room only, and they really ate the story up.

We went out for food and drinks after, and I got to meet two wonderful agents, and a slew of Ben's very funny friends. And I started to really get the charm of Brooklyn.

I'll add a pic once I'm fully awake. I didn't leave till nearly 2, and then it was a long subway back to Manhattan, because I always forget they all run local overnight. I'm am dragging ass now, but still very glad I went.

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