Strange Bodies

A Novel

Marcel Theroux

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A dizzying novel of deception and metempsychosis by the author of the National Book Award finalist Far North

Whatever this is, it started when Nicholas Slopen came back from the dead.

In a locked ward of a notorious psychiatric hospital sits a man who insists that he is Dr. Nicholas Slopen, failed husband and impoverished Samuel Johnson scholar. Slopen has been dead for months, yet nothing can make this man change his story. What begins as a tale of apparent forgery involving unknown letters by the great Dr. Johnson grows to encompass a conspiracy between a Silicon Valley mogul and his Russian allies to exploit the darkest secret of Soviet technology: the Malevin Procedure.
     With echoes of Jorge Luis Borges and Philip K. Dick, Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies takes the reader on a dizzying speculative journey that poses questions about identity, authenticity, and what it means to be truly human.


Read an Excerpt

My name is Nicholas Patrick Slopen. I was born in Singapore City on April 10, 1970. I died on September 28, 2009, crushed in the wheel arch of a lorry outside Oval tube station.
This document is my testimony.
As will shortly become clear, I have an unknown but definitely brief period of time to explain the events leading up to my death and to establish the continuity of my identity after it. In view of the constraints upon me, I hope the reader will forgive my forgoing the usual niceties of autobiography. At the same time, I will have to commit myself to some details


Praise for Strange Bodies

"[Strange Bodies is] a literary science fiction novel as entertaining as it is thought-provoking and disturbing . . . Theroux masterfully braids horror and ontology, Nabokovian doppelgangers and Orwellian satire into a tragicomic narrative that pulls tight as a noose . . . A brilliant, troubling thriller." —Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times

"[A] page-turning, thought-provoking, exhilarating novel . . . ‘Thriller’ may be a somewhat misleading label to fasten on a modern fable that also has elements of science fiction, dystopia and domestic comedy. But without a doubt, Strange Bodies is a thrill to read." —Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal

"[Theroux] is a superb writer . . . There are beautiful things, real things, tucked in this novel." —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Strange Bodies is a rich read about so much more than the secrets that make it tick. Theroux’s use of language is gorgeous." —Adrienne Martini, Locus

"I could not put [Strange Bodies] down . . . It was truly a joy to read each sentence." —Robert K. Lewis, Criminal Element

"A strange, satisfying novel about possession featuring a literary scholar, a music mogul, assorted East European thugs, and the long dead but still articulate Dr. Samuel Johnson . . . A thought-provoking and engaging fusion of comedy and horror." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Truly enthralling . . . An intense and nuanced examination of the plight of being . . . Philip K. Dick’s The Transmigration of Timothy Archer meets Stephenie Meyer’s The Host in this very highly recommended work." —Henry Bankhead, Library Journal (starred review)

"A labyrinthine exploration of identity and mortality, filled with big ideas." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Theroux has a knack for warping the anxieties of the present into an unsettling vision of our possible future. His focus here could not be timelier." —Steve Almond, The New York Times Book Review

"This is a superb technological fantasy, a tense thriller and a brilliantly imagined debate about the relationship between body and soul. Wonderful." —Kate Saunders, The Times (London)

"An eerily plausible modern Frankenstein . . . It’s not often you read a book as clever as this that is also emotionally charged and moving." —Doug Johnstone, The Independent

"Strange Bodies is an examination of contemporary consciousness. But from its robust hook, through its comic set-up, to its dark if hopeful conclusions, it is also a kindly, intelligently entertaining thriller." —M. John Harrison, The Times Literary Supplement

"The perfect literary thriller for the internet age." —Red Online

"The unfolding of the narrative is genuinely eerie, but the richness of allusion and elegance of design make Strange Bodies as much an inquiry into language and identity as a high-concept literary thriller . . . Its exploration of human vulnerability, the notion that consciousness may be no more than ‘a trick of the light,’ is moving as well as thought-provoking, as elegiac as it is gripping." —Justine Jordan, The Guardian


In the Press

Marcel Theroux's 'Strange Bodies' eerily updates 'Frankenstein' - latimes.com
Book review: Marcel Theroux's 'Strange Bodies' is a smart, troubling sci-fi thriller that poses deep questions about identity.
- Los Angeles Times
Excerpt: Strange Bodies | Work in Progress
My name is Nicholas Patrick Slopen. I was born in Singapore City on April 10, 1970. I died on September 28, 2009, crushed in the wheel arch of a lorry outside Oval tube station. This document is my testimony.
- FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Marcel Theroux

  • Marcel Theroux is the author of several novels, including Far North, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction. He lives in London, where he also works as a documentary filmmaker and television presenter.

  • Marcel Theroux





    Available Formats and Book Details

    Strange Bodies

    A Novel

    Marcel Theroux

    The Guardian (UK) Best Books of the Year, The Telegraph (UK) Best Books of the Year, John W. Campbell Memorial Award - Winner


    Farrar, Straus and Giroux