Author: David Means
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE
Named a Best of the Year Selection by Kirkus Reviews, the San Francisco Chronicle, Commonweal Magazine, and the Library of Michigan
In his widely acclaimed and ambitious debut novel, David Means, one of America’s greatest living short story writers, has produced a disorienting yet mesmerizing novel-within-a-novel. Twenty-two year old Eugene Allen, a Vietnam War veteran, has penned a revisionist history of the period that, channeled through Means, explores the realities of trauma, both national and personal. Consider Allen’s imaginative register: John F. Kennedy has survived multiple attempts on his life and is entering his third term. Meanwhile, as the Vietnam War continues to wage, soldiers returning home face two fates: have their memories of war erased or, if they are too damaged for treatment, be released without monitor. But pain and their toxic strains of PTSD ultimately creates a band of deranged rogues, evading the government and reenacting atrocities on their own people.
Outlandish and tender, funny and violent, timely and historical, Hystopia invites us to consider whether our traumas can ever truly be overcome. The answers it offers are wildly inventive, deeply rooted in its characters, and wrung from the author’s own heart.