By the author of Sharp Teeth, a novel of love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea
Will is a young American ad executive in Paris. Except his agency is a front for the CIA. It’s 1959 and the cold war is going strong. But Will doesn’t think he’s a warrior—he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy who can’t seem to figure out Parisian girls.
Zoya is a beautiful young woman wandering les boulevards, sad-eyed, coming off a bad breakup. In fact, she impaled her ex on a spike. Zoya, it turns out, has been a beautiful young woman for hundreds of years; she and her far more traditionally witchy-looking companion, Elga, have been thriving unnoticed in the bloody froth of Europe’s wars.
Inspector Vidot is a hardworking Paris police detective who cherishes quiet nights at home. But when he follows a lead from a grisly murder to the abode of an ugly old woman, he finds himself turned into a flea.
Oliver is a patrician, fun-loving American who has come to France to start a literary journal with the help of friends in D.C. who ask a few favors in return. He’s in well over his head, but it’s nothing that a cocktail can’t fix. Right?
Add a few chance encounters, a chorus of some more angry witches, a strung-out jazzman or two, a weaponized LSD program, and a cache of rifles buried in the Bois de Bologne—and that’s a novel! But while Toby Barlow’s Babayaga may start as just a joyful romp though the City of Light, it quickly grows into a daring, moving exploration of love, mortality, and responsibility.
Detroit author Toby Barlow’s latest novel, 'Babayaga' comes out on Tuesday. His 2006 debut, 'Sharp Teeth' was published by Harper and received critical acclaim. Academy Award winning filmmaker Danny Boyle plans to adapt it for a screenplay. Barlow tells WDET’s Travis Wright Babayaga is inspired by witches from Eastern European folklore and a lifelong interest in espionage.
Toby Barlow talks about his new novel, Babayaga, about love, spies, and witches in 1950s Paris—and a cop turned into a flea. It follows Will, a young executive at an American ad agency in Paris that’s a front for the CIA. Will doesn’t think he’s a Cold War warrior, he’s just a good-hearted Detroit ad guy who can’t seem to figure out Parisian girls.