OVERRIDE

Trance

A Novel

Christopher Sorrentino

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

1974: A tiny band of self-styled urban guerrillas, calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army, abducts a newspaper heiress, who then abruptly announces that she has adopted the guerrilla name "Tania" and chosen to remain with her former captors. Has she been brainwashed? Coerced? Could she be sincere? Why would such a nice girl disavow her loving parents, her adoring fiancé, her comfortable home? Why would she suddenly adopt the SLA's cri de coeur, "Death to the Fascist Insect that Preys Upon the Life of the People"? Soon most of the SLA are dead, killed in a suicidal confrontation with police in Los Angeles, forcing Tania and her two remaining comrades--the pompous and abusive General Teko and his duplicitous lieutenant, Yolanda--into hiding, where they will remain for the next sixteen months.

Trance, Christopher Sorrentino's mesmerizing and brilliant second novel, traces this fugitive period, leading the reader on a breathtaking, hilarious, and heartbreaking underground tour across a beleaguered America, in the company of scam artists, visionaries, cultists, and a mismatched gang of middle-class people who typify the guiding conceit of their time, that of self-renovation. Along the way he tells the story of a nation divided against itself--parents and children, men and women, black and white; a story of hidebound tradition and radical change, of truth and propaganda, of cynicism and idealism; a story as transfixing and relevant today as it was then.

Insightful, compassionate, scathingly funny, and moving, Trance is a virtuoso performance, placing Christopher Sorrentino in the first rank of American novelists. Trance is a 2005 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

  Trance
PART ONEIn Darkness in the Deeps… she or he who is NOT AFRAID and who actively seeks death out will find it NOT AT THEIR DOOR.
 —NANCY LING PERRY, APRIL 4, 1974
 Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; took upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
 —SUN TZU
 HERE’S A RED AND white VW van, parked and baking in the sun on this clear and warm May day, and the young woman seated in the front passenger seat, the van’s sole occupant, stirs
READ THE FULL EXCERPT
BACK

REVIEWS

Praise for Trance

"Like Don Delillo in Libra and Philip Roth in American Pastoral, Christopher Sorrentino has opened the pages of his fiction to the breadth of collective memory, and the result is one of the most humane and haunting novels I've read in years. It's also the funniest and most incisive evocation of the world I knew and lived through in the 1970's, a world which haunts and informs every part of the cultural landscape we're suffering today, no matter how desperately we try to decant that era through pity or nostalgia. By bringing to bear the gifts of major novelist--and Sorrentino possesses a searing gaze, a polymath's erudition, and a lover's ear for the frailties of human language, both spoken and internal--by communing and abiding with these appalling phantasms of homegrown terrorism--he's not only entertained and enlightened us, he's performed an act of true forgiveness, the kind only fiction can offer. Christopher Sorrentino's Trance will be placed on the very highest shelf of that art which explains the 20th Century to the 21st." --Jonathan Lethem

"This is a great novel, and the trance of its title is not just the collective delusion of a particular cultural moment but the mesmerizing force of its writing. Playful, scathing, gripping and profound, this book is a meditation and a provocation, full of humor and menace. Sorrentino has broken new ground at the border of fiction and history." --Sam Lipsyte, author of The Subject Steve and Home Land

"Trance is a work of startling insight, marvelously and masterfully evoking the grim stuff of true American nightmares." --Colson Whitehead, author of John Henry Days

"An ambitious, intelligent, and kaleidoscopically opulent book, remarkably evocative of the textures and tones of the 70s. Sorrentino has a talent for creating authentic, microscopic moments that capture the spirit of an era." --Lydia Millet, author of George Bush, Dark Prince of Love

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Christopher Sorrentino

  • Christopher Sorrentino is the author of a previous novel, Sound on Sound. He has contributed fiction, essays, and criticism to The Baffler, Bookforum, Conjunctions, Fence, and McSweeney's, among other publications and is a contributor to Give Our Regards to the Atomsmashers: Writers on Comics. He lives in Brooklyn.
  • Christopher Sorrentino Copyright Greg Martin
BACK

READING GUIDE

OTHER GUIDES

Reading Group Guide
BACK

BUY THE BOOK

Available Formats and Book Details

Trance

A Novel

Christopher Sorrentino

National Book Awards Finalist
BACK