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The Topeka School

Category: Book
By (author): Lerner, Ben
Subject:  FICTION / Coming of Age
  FICTION / Family Life
  FICTION / General
  FICTION / Literary
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Published: October 2019
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 304
Size: 9.00in x 6.00in
Our Price:
$ 32.00
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*From the award-winning author of 10:04 and Leaving the Atocha Station, a tender and expansive family drama set in the American Midwest at the turn of the century, hailed by Maggie Nelson as Ben Lerner's "most discerning, ambitious, innovative, and timely novel to date."

Adam Gordon is a senior at Topeka High School, class of '97. His mother, Jane, is a famous feminist author; his father, Jonathan, is an expert at getting "lost boys" to open up. They both work at a psychiatric clinic that has attracted staff and patients from around the world. Adam is a renowned debater, expected to win a national championship before he heads to college. He is one of the cool kids, ready to fight or, better, freestyle about fighting if it keeps his peers from thinking of him as weak. Adam is also one of the seniors who bring the loner Darren Eberheart--who is, unbeknownst to Adam, his father's patient--into the social scene, to disastrous effect.

     Deftly shifting perspectives and time periods, The Topeka School is the story of a family, its struggles and its strengths: Jane's reckoning with the legacy of an abusive father, Jonathan's marital transgressions, the challenge of raising a good son in a culture of toxic masculinity. It is also a riveting prehistory of the present: the collapse of public speech, the trolls and tyrants of the New Right, and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men.
Review Quote*Advance Praise for The Topeka School:

"The Topeka School is [Lerner's] most discerning, ambitious, innovative, and timely novel to date. It's a complete pleasure to read Lerner experimenting with other minds and times, to watch his already profound talent blooming into new subjects, landscapes, and capacities. This book is a prehistory of a deeply disturbing national moment, but it's written with the kind of intelligence, insight, and searching that makes one feel well-accompanied and, in the final hour, deeply inspired."-Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

"The Topeka School is a novel of exhilarating intellectual inquiry, penetrating social insight, and deep psychological sensitivity. At every turn, its beautifully realized characters are shaped, even in the privacy of their inner lives, by the pressures of history and culture-this is a book not only about how things really feel, but what things really mean. To the extent that we can speak of a future at present, I think the future of the novel is here."-Sally Rooney, author of Conversations with Friends and Normal People

"Ben Lerner has redefined what it means for a writer to inhabit an American present by showing how a family reckons with its past. Here the personal and political are masterfully interwoven. The Topeka School is brave, furious, and, finally, a work of love." -Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

"In Ben Lerner's riveting third novel, Midwestern America in the late nineties becomes a powerful allegory of our troubled present. The Topeka School deftly explores how language not only reflects but is at the very center of our country's most insidious crises. In prose both richly textured and many-voiced, we track the inner lives of one white family's interconnected strengths and silences. What's revealed is part tableau of our collective lust for belonging, part diagnosis of our ongoing national violence. This is Lerner's most essential and provocative creation yet." -Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen: An American Lyric

"Ben Lerner is a brilliant novelist, and one unafraid to make of the novel something truly new . . . He is one of my favourite living writers." -Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers
Biographical NoteBEN LERNER was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed novels Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04, three books of poetry (The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path), and the monograph The Hatred of Poetry, as well as several collaborations with artists. Lerner has been a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry and has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations, among many other honors. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College.