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Famous Men Who Never Lived

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4.64  ·  Rating details ·  11 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
Wherever Hel looks, New York City is both reassuringly familiar and terribly wrong. As one of the thousands who fled the outbreak of nuclear war in an alternate United States—an alternate timeline—she finds herself living as a refugee in our own not-so-parallel New York. The slang and technology are foreign to her, the politics and art unrecognizable. While others, like he ...more
Hardcover, 324 pages
Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by Tin House Books
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Katherine Riley
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What exactly is Famous Men Who Never Lived? I’m still not sure. At one level it’s intricate SFF, and at another it’s taut and deep cerebral. It’s an angry contemplation of fate, and a gentle musing on infinite possibility. It is the story of an ark. Through its reading it also infuses. Late at night after reading it I found myself traveling the multiverse of my own life, examining choices both intimate and cataclysmic, and the alternatives they might have wrought.
Dan
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
K Chess has written a book that drags the fantastic, ephemeral stories of alternate worlds into a modern New York that feels utterly believable. A masterfully crafted debut, FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED is the story of refugees from a doomed New York, carrying a sparse handful of mementos of a lost world and a lifetime of memories to be cherished, resented, or both.

There's enough speculative history in this book to delight my inner sci-fi nerd, but Chess is never lets the setting distract from th
...more
Pearse Anderson
"We used to get our eyebrows threaded on this block every week, in another New York."

As I ended my internship at Tin House, I took this book from the galley room and read it as the dystopic cloud of smoke enveloped Portland. I'm not going to say much because I don't think I can, but K's debut is as brilliant as you would expect, and this book combines the literary Tin House vibe with the soft science fiction you could expect to find in "literary" magazines. Bleh, hate using titles like that, ove
...more
James Charlesworth
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Blending rich characterization and stylish writing with a wonderfully layered narrative (and a healthy dose of chaos theory), K Chess's debut novel depicts a group of survivors transported from a doomed alternate New York City to our own through a scientifically designed portal. Though the set-up of this book is science fiction, the story centers on the very real desires and faults of its characters, who, arriving at our world to find themselves ostracized, must find a way to adapt to their new ...more
K.A. Doore
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
When an alternate Earth is threatened by nuclear war, desperate refugees flee through an untested portal, accepting the very real risk that there might not be anything on the other side for the possibility of safety. When Hel arrives in a New York not too unlike her own, safe and whole and alive, it seems like a miracle. Soon, though, the differences between this New York and her own New York creep in, forcing Hel to confront the trauma of losing her home, the choices she made to get here, and w ...more
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K Chess was a W.K. Rose Fellow and her short stories have been honored by the Nelson Algren Award and the Pushcart Prize. She earned an MFA from Southern Illinois University and currently teaches at GrubStreet. She lives with her wife in Providence, RI.

FAMOUS MEN WHO NEVER LIVED (Tin House 2019) is her first novel.