Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Fact of a Body

The Fact of a Body

A Murder and a Memoir

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Flatiron Books

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Bustle's 20 Best Non-Fiction Books for May
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Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in May

“A True Crime Masterpiece” – Vogue

"This book is a marvel. The Fact of a Body is equal parts gripping and haunting and will leave you questioning whether any one story can hold the full truth." — Celeste Ng, author of the New York Times bestselling Everything I Never Told You


Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley’s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes—the moment she hears him speak of his crimes -- she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case. Despite their vastly different circumstances, something in his story is unsettlingly, uncannily familiar.

Crime, even the darkest and most unsayable acts, can happen to any one of us. As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky’s childhood. And by examining the details of Ricky’s case, she is forced to face her own story, to unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky's crime.

But another surprise awaits: She wasn’t the only one who saw her life in Ricky’s.

An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, THE FACT OF A BODY is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed -- but about how we grapple with our own personal histories. Along the way it tackles questions about the nature of forgiveness, and if a single narrative can ever really contain something as definitive as the truth. This groundbreaking, heart-stopping work, ten years in the making, shows how the law is more personal than we would like to believe -- and the truth more complicated, and powerful, than we could ever imagine.

EXCERPT

One

Louisiana, 1992

The boy wears sweatpants the color of a Louisiana lake. Later, the police report will note them as blue, though in every description his mother gives thereafter she will always insist on calling them...

Reviews

Praise for The Fact of a Body

"This book is a marvel. With unflinching precision andimmense compassion, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich peels apart both a murder caseand her own experience to reveal how we try to make sense of the past. The Fact of a Body is equal parts gripping and haunting andwill leave you questioning whether any one story can hold the full truth."
—Celeste Ng, author of the New York Times bestselling Everything I Never Told You

“A fascinating hybrid of true crime and memoir, TheFact of a Body isintricately constructed, emotionally raw, and unflinching. AlexandriaMarzano-Lesnevich has written a gripping meditation on memory, justice, and thelimits of empathy.”
—Tom Perrotta

"The Fact of a Body is unlikeany murder story I've ever read, a masterpiece of both reportage and memoir, abook that could only be written by an author with AlexandriaMarzano-Lesnevich's staggering gifts: a relentless reporter with a law degreefrom Harvard, a poet's understanding of the cadence of a line, and a novelist'sgift for empathy. Walter Benjamin famously said that all great works of arteither dissolve a genre or invent one. This book does both, and its greatnessis undeniable."
—Justin St. Germain, author of Son of a Gun

"The Fact of a Body is aremarkable act of witness, an anatomy of silence and the violence it abets, abook of both public and private accountings. Rejecting the false comfort ofcertainty, it confronts the inadequacy of all our tools for fathoming not justunforgivable crimes, but the baffling, human grace that can forgive them. Thisis a profound and riveting book."
— Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

"The balancing act here performed between autobiographyand journalism, documentary and imagination, witnessing and reckoning, thetender and the terrible, is shrewd and graceful. In the hands of a lesser humanor writer, it could have all fallen apart; instead, AlexandriaMarzano-Lesnevich has given us an exquisite and exquisitely difficult work ofart that makes a fierce claim on our attention, conscience, and heart."
— Maggie Nelson, author of theNBCC award-winning Argonauts

"Haunting...impeccably researched...Her writing isremarkably evocative and taut with suspense, with a level of nuance that setsthis effort apart from other true crime accounts."
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“An accomplished literary debut…an absorbing narrative aboutsecrets, pain, revenge, and, ultimately, the slippery notion of truth…Apowerful evocation of the raw pain of emotional scars.”
Kirkus

"Compulsive, eloquent and profoundly troubling. One ofthose rare books which embrace the genuine complexity of life."
— Mark Haddon, bestsellingauthor of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

“The writing is superb and gripping…a moving must-have.”
Library Journal, starredreview


Surprising, suspenseful, and moving…A book that defiesboth itsgenres, turning into something wholly different and memorable.”
Booklist, starredreview


Haunting… Marzano-Lesnevich digs into one case that begins tofeeloddly familiar, and eventually is forced to confront her understandingofjustice, forgiveness, and truth.”
—BuzzFeed



“THE FACT OF A BODY is excellent.So gripping and fascinating.”
Sophie Hannah, New York Times bestsellingauthorof The Monogram Murders



“Marzano-Lesnevich interweaves the story of a disturbing1992 murder case she stumbles upon as a law intern with her own past trauma inthis haunting, excellentmemoir.”
EW.com

“Suspenseful and spellbinding.”
Bustle

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

A 2014 National Endowment for the Arts fellow, she has received a Rona Jaffe Award and has twice been a fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo. Her essays appear in the New York Times, Oxford American, and the anthologies TRUE CRIME and WAVEFORM: Twenty-first Century Essays by Women, as well as many other publications. She received her JD from Harvard, her MFA at Emerson College, and her BA from Columbia University. She now lives in Boston, where she teaches at Grub Street and in the graduate public policy program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Tours & Events

Meet the Author

April 26 - June 8, 2017

Meet Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich as she reads from her new book The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir.

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