Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Babayaga

Babayaga

A Novel

Toby Barlow

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

BUY THE BOOK

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 … More…

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.

Less…

Amazon.com Best Books of the Year, Booklist Best Books of the Year, Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year

Book One


When I was living in Paris, we had an expression, a very American one, which in a way explains it better than anything else. We used to say, "Let's take the lead." That meant going off the deep end, diving into the unconscious,...

Watch

Witches & Spies: Author Toby Barlow's Babayaga on WDET

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.

Praise for Babayaga

“This supernatural-spy-thriller-romance-history is one of the most entertaining books you'll read [this season]--or decade.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Tolkien meets Graham Greene meets Anne Rice in this wild, surrealistic caper.” —New York magazine

“A fun brew of witches, CIA spies, and fraught romance....Barlow casts a magical spell.” —People

“Barlow is adept at combining unexpected genres....When Barlow began writing fiction, he has said, he was ‘blessed by Plimpton's spirit of making the impossible possible.' This book continues in that tradition: It's an absurd hybrid that winds up as a bewitching caper novel.” —Los Angeles Times

“Toby Barlow is a warlock. Babayaga is his potion. Drink up.” —Robin Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

In the Press

Americans continue to visit Paris not just for Paris, but for 'Paris,'" Rosecrans Baldwin, author of Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down, wrote in an email. "As if out of some collective nostalgia for what Paris should be, more than what it is." He was writing to Toby Barlow, author of Sharp Teeth and, most recently, Babayaga - FSG's Work in Progress

Toby Barlow relates how memories of his grandfather have informed his new book Babayaga. - Tor.com

Book review: Toby Barlow's adept combination of unexpected genres conjures a tale of witches, the CIA and a cop-turned-flea in 1950s Paris - Los Angeles Times

'Babayaga' is a saga as multifaceted as Toby Barlow himself, who finds time for a demanding job, civic-minded efforts for his adopted hometown and a part-time role as an op-ed columnist. - Detroit Free Press

Explore the five facets of ad man, novelist and civic booster Toby Barlow. - Detroit Free Press

Hour Detroit Magazine - Sleepless in Shanghai - Team Detroit Creative Director Toby Barlow pens latest novel while dealing with global jet lag - Hour Detroit

So, one morning, I woke up hungover in my Brooklyn apartment. This was years ago now. It was late on a clear summer day, the windows were open and blowing in the sea air from the New York harbor. I was in no great hurry to move. For some reason, I found myself mulling over a recent Hunter S Thompson quote I had read regarding the death of George Plimpton. - FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook

LATEST ON TWITTER