Welcome to the House of Journalists. Who are you and what is your story?
These are the questions that confront newcomers to the House of Journalists, the internationally renowned refuge for writers in exile at the center of this haunting Orwellian novel. Home to a select group of fellows, the House is located in a fashionable London terrace. But just how stable is this hallowed institution? Julian Snowman, the obsessive founder and chair, sees the threat of dissolution at every turn. Perhaps this explains why petty rules and restrictions abide: men live in one wing, women in the other; smoking is restricted to the central courtyard; tea is optional, but everyone attends.
As the fellows strive to remake their lives, they are urged to share their tales. Epic and intimate by turns, these stories—of courage, tragedy, and shame—become a mesmerizing chorus of voices in search of home. Among the fellows are Mustapha, who yearns for the family he tore himself from when he resisted a coup; Agnes, a photojournalist implicated in a brutal civil war; Sonny, a slight figure with don’t-mess-with-me hair, who describes a harrowing escape across continents; Edson, who perilously confides his story to his writing mentor; and Mr. Stan, who draws on the noxious cigarettes of his home island, despite having been tortured there.
Only one man manages to guard his past: the mysterious new fellow AA, whose secrecy ratchets up Julian’s paranoia. Julian suspects that AA is conspiring with a celebrated visiting writer to bring down the House. In fact, AA is planning something else entirely.
A world as beguiling as it is disturbing, Tim Finch’s The House of Journalists is a novel of heartbreak, humanity, and wit, and announces the arrival of a striking new voice in fiction.
“Once I got into The House of Journalists I couldn’t leave! In fact, I think I’m still there. Someone please call the fire department. This prose is flammable!” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
“Tim Finch’s strong debut demonstrates how skillfully the raw materials of politics, human rights, journalistic ethics, and social responsibility can be alchemized into art.” —Francine Prose, author of Reading Like a Writer
“Tim Finch’s probing and provocative debut sparkles with ironic intelligence and a true compassion that refuses to embrace the official version of anyone’s suffering. Brilliantly wary of false language and borrowed stories, this novel was written to last, and I believe it will.” —John Burnham Schwartz, author of Northwest Corner
“To the dark side of triumphant globalization Tim Finch brings an intriguing and unnerving perspective. I thought of Kafka more than once.” —Norman Rush, author of Mating