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Broken River

A Novel
J. Robert Lennon
A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

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The most inventive and entertaining novel to date from “a master of the dark arts” (Kelly Link)

About the Author

J. Robert  Lennon
J. Robert Lennon is the author of eight novels, including Broken River, Familiar, Castle, and Mailman, and two story collections. His fiction has appeared in the Paris Review, Granta, Harper’s, Playboy, and the New Yorker. He lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches writing at Cornell University.
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  • Broken River is a novel that watches as its own plot unfolds, wondering at the way that ‘everything is exquisitely interconnected, malevolent, and dangerous.’”The Wall Street Journal
  • “[Broken River] proves, as ever, that the novel can do things nothing but the novel can do.”—Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times
  • “Virtuosic. . . . [A] dark and brooding thriller.”San Francisco Chronicle
  • #1 Indie Next Pick for May 2017

    Named a Best Book of 2017 by the San Francisco Chronicle, Electric Literature, and MPR News'
    "The Thread"
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