Pen America announced their 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize last week, which goes to an “exceptionally talented” first novelist, awarding it to Sergio De La Pava for A Naked Singularity, an experimental novel clocking in at 689 pages.
A Naked Singularity is about a NYC public defender and what happens to him when he loses his first case, after never losing once before in his career. The book has been lauded for its moving prose and its documentation of our broken legal system. You can read the first chapter on De La Pava’s website. It reminds me a bit of Roberto Bolano in its length and its look at injustice. He has also been compared to Thomas Pynchon.
According to The Millions, which did an interview with him last year, De La Pava was rejected by 88 publishers before he decided to self-publish this book in 2008. His wife worked on publicity for the title, it eventually got some notice, and the University of Chicago Press re-released it in 2012. The Millions article came out after that publication and is an in-depth exploration of the author and how the book fits into contemporary literature. That article is a good place to start if you want to read more about the book, which is to be published in the UK at the end of August 2013.
This is not your light summer read, but its set up and originality are intriguing. However, for me, a book this long can become a project. I read Bolano’s 2666 a few years back and while that book spoke to me, and kept me engaged, I never stopped noting how big a book it was and set aside a month to focus on it. But for those of you into less-mainstream books, or big books, this looks like one to pick up. It is also a book which has had a slow trajectory from self-publishing to award-winning, which is nice to see.
I’m moving next week, from one corner or Brooklyn to another, so if I don’t publish a review it will come out the week after 😉
Happy summer reading to you all!