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Trenton Makes: A Novel (Paperback)

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In 1946, in the hardscrabble industrial city of Trenton, New Jersey, a woman kills her army veteran husband in a domestic brawl—and then assumes his identity. As Abe Kunstler, he secures a factory job, buys a car, and successfully woos a young woman with whom he makes a home. But for Abe, this is not enough: to complete his transformation, he needs a son. Fast-forward to 1971, and the certainties of midcentury triumphalism are a distant, bitter memory, Trenton’s heyday as a factory town is long past, and the family life Abe has so carefully constructed is crumbling under the intolerable pressures of his long ruse. Written in brilliantly stylized prose, Trenton Makes is the indelibly told story of a woman determined to carve out her share of the American Dream.

About the Author

Tadzio Koelb is a graduate of the prestigious writing program at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. He has translated André Gide’s work and is an active reviewer and essayist for a variety of publications that include The New York Times and The Times Literary Supplement. He teaches writing at Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Praise For…

“A novel of bewitching ingenuity. . . . Trenton Makes boasts the force of real freshness.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[A] transgressive, barbed-wire-sharp debut novel.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“In Trenton Makes, his fever dream of a debut novel, Tadzio Koelb puts a gothic, shocking spin on the effects of mid-century American masculinity and the fragile scaffolding that has kept it upright.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“[A] taut and startling debut, in which Rust Belt Trenton becomes a character as vivid as the people.” —The Dallas Morning News

"Trenton Makes is a fascinating interrogation of the industrial American dream." —Financial Times
“The honed-steel sentences on display here—vivid and sharp and scarily persuasive—are all the more harrowing for the vulnerability they manage to convey. Abe Kunstler is a singular protagonist, and Trenton Makes is a passionate and original first novel.” —Garth Risk Hallberg, author of City on Fire

“A stunning debut. Utterly brilliant.” —Philipp Meyer, author of The Son
“Koelb’s novel is an evocative and innovative story. He conveys the single protagonist’s character with sharp, gritty descriptions that stay in the reader’s head for a long while. This sharply honed, disturbing portrait . . . draws attention to a past era of triumphant white, American manhood, but also to the remnants of it that exists today to the detriment of men and those they love.” —The Missourian
“Astonishing.” —The Believer
“A novel cut from the same startling bolt of literary cloth used by writers like Djuna Barnes, William Faulkner, or James Baldwin. Trenton Makes is about America now.” —Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome
“An intimate and paranoid novel which situates readers deeply in the mind of a person trying to make sense of trauma, self-determination, and the related problem of the American Dream.” —The Brooklyn Rail
“A piercing tragedy of a life caught between free will and utter desperation.” —Booklist
“Electrifying.” —Literary Hub
“This is storytelling on steroids. . . . I thought of Gogol as I read this, and Dostoyevsky—just to name a couple of his ancestors.” —Jay Parini, author of The Last Station and The Passages of H. M.
“Koelb shows how profoundly gender roles influence individual lives and how devastating it is for those who become strangers or impostors in their own lives.” —Library Journal
“Koelb’s imagining of his unforgettable protagonist is as tough as it is compassionate; his prose seduces not just because it is stunning, but because it is uncompromising in its pursuit of one character’s mutilated truth.” —Belinda McKeon, author of Tender
“In this taut debut, Koelb takes on manhood and the rise and fall of the American Century. . . . [He] is insightful . . . about how short the era of triumphant white American manhood was and its tendency to fight a rear-guard action that hurts men and those they love.” —Publishers Weekly
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525436065
ISBN-10: 0525436065
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: January 15th, 2019
Pages: 222
Language: English
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