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A Naked Singularity

by

A Naked Singularity Cover

ISBN13: 9780226141794
ISBN10: 0226141799
All Product Details

 

Awards

Staff Pick

A Naked Singularity is easily the funniest and most heartbreaking book I read this year. Told from the point of view of Casi, a 24-year-old public defender in Manhattan, its contents range from court transcripts to abstract philosophical discussions to absurdist conversations with next-door neighbors (not to mention an incredibly well-planned criminal caper that's as thrilling as any movie you saw this summer). Casi is intelligent, hilarious, and deeply committed to his clients — you'll root for him the whole way while simultaneously pondering our legal system, the culture that undergirds it, and maybe even your own morality. Now that's what I call a novel.
Recommended by Nathan W., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A Naked Singularity tells the story of Casi, a child of Colombian immigrants who lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan as a public defender — one who, tellingly has never lost a trial. Never. In the book, we watch what happens when his sense of justice and even his sense of self begin to crack — and how his world then slowly devolves. It’s a huge, ambitious novel clearly in the vein of DeLillo, Foster Wallace, Pynchon, and even Melville, and it's told in a distinct, frequently hilarious voice, with a striking human empathy at its center. Its panoramic reach takes readers through crime and courts, immigrant families and urban blight, media savagery and media satire, scatology and boxing, and even a breathless heist worthy of any crime novel. If Infinite Jest stuck a pin in the map of mid-90s culture and drew our trajectory from there, A Naked Singularity does the same for the feeling of surfeit, brokenness, and exhaustion that permeates our civic and cultural life today. In the opening sentence of William Gaddis’s A Frolic of His Own, a character sneers, "Justice? You get justice in the next world. In this world, you get the law." A Naked Singularity reveals the extent of that gap, and lands firmly on the side of those who are forever getting the law.

Review:

"Originally self-published in 2008, this leviathan novel is not for the fainthearted, although its crazy, contemporary voice is so compelling and audacious that plodding through it to the end has its rewards. Narrator Casi is a brilliant young public defender whose hilarious interactions with criminals and colleagues are so absurd, and justice so often fleeting, that an existential angst quickly takes hold, morality is turned on its head, and nothing much is funny anymore. Plot strands abound, among them Casi's defense of a terminally ill drug addict, his advocacy of a Skittles-loving death row inmate whose execution might be a better fate than life in his dark cell, and a fellow lawyer who dreams up the perfect crime, which, despite its implausibility, gives the story momentum. Casi is humanized in scenes with his extended Colombian family — complete with a mute niece and a thoughtful sister — and with his friends, although his neighbors in Brooklyn are little more than surreal mouthpieces for the author's philosophical musings. In Casi's twisted postmodern world, the justice system is a farce, the heroes mostly aligned with the accused, and a person can care desperately but have so little power that his life becomes heavy enough to collapse into itself." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review:

"Sergio De La Pava brings linguistic energy and grim hilarity to this furious novel about the dysfunctional criminal-justice system. His novel evokes such maximalist masterpieces of the 1970s as Robert Coover's Public Burning and William Gaddis's J R — he has Coover's rage and Gaddis's ear — yet also grapples with current issues hot off the AP wire. Socially engaged, formally inventive, and intellectually challenging, A Naked Singularity is a remarkable performance." Steven Moore, author of The Novel: An Alternative History

Review:

"When I started reading A Naked Singularity, after a page or two I realized I was going to love it — and I did — but why? I've never sat down to analyze what it is that makes me read a book voraciously from cover to cover, fretting when I have to put it down and longing through the day to get back to it. I like, admire, appreciate a whole range of books and am happy to devote my time and attention to them, but the ones that take me over are rarer....Casi's voice is astonishing, cynical but compassionate, alive to the ridiculous and the pitiful and the horrific but never losing its commitment to morality." Lian Hearn, author of Tales of the Otori

Review:

"One of the best and most original novels of the decade....It's one of those fantastic, big, messy books like Darconville's Cat or Infinite Jest or Women and Men, though it's not really like any of those books or those writers....But see here: I refuse to divulge too much of the plot, because watching it unfold is one of the great joys of the novel....What I keep coming back to is the audacity of this novel, which is truly a towering, impressive work — De La Pava's not hesitant to break and then mirror the narrative with the story of professional boxer Wilfred Benitez, or insert a recipe, none of which hinder the narrative but rather shape the entirety of the book, making the actual story and its effect on the characters (and the characters' actions that shape the story, et cetera) more profound....If you like The Wire, if you like rewarding, difficult fiction, if you like literary, high-quality artistic and hilarious yet moving novels that are difficult to put down, I can't recommend A Naked Singularity enough." Scott Bryan Wilson

Review:

"Casi's voice is the combination of brashness and world-weary humanity you'd find in a cynic who'd been scratched to reveal the disappointed idealist beneath....The whole feels like The Recognitions as legal thriller, a glorious mess with dashes of Powers, minor Pynchon, and White Noise, among many others....[I]n its ambitions and shortcomings and shaggy glory, A Naked Singularity is perhaps most reminiscent of The Broom of the System. So that bodes well." The Quarterly Conversation

Review:

"A Naked Singularity looks like an unreadable brick, bloated at 700 pages and likely dense with esoterica. Instead it is a fine encyclopedic romp in the Joyce/Pynchon/Wallace tradition, one with an effortless flow and arresting setting: the American judicial system as vortical funhouse." Tim Feeney, Review of Contemporary Fiction

Review:

"Weird, brilliant." Miles Klee, The Notes

Review:

"The manic prose fights viciously against an ultimate collapse of good into evil — but not only is there no escape; there was never any such thing." Steve Donoghue, The National

Review:

"A work of amazing breadth and humor....Challenging, addictively entertaining and not to be missed, A Naked Singularity heralds the arrival of a tremendous talent." Miles Klee, Flavorwire

Review:

"I strongly encourage you to overcome whatever hesitation the phrase 700-page self-published novel may inspire in you and pick it up. It is a beautiful monster of a book, a novel that left this reviewer, at least, feeling like maybe there's some point in reading novels — and writing them — after all." Shelf Awareness

Review:

"A Naked Singularity is not about physics. It's about the American criminal justice system in a large and chaotic city, a place slowly crushed by hopelessness in the same way that an ancient star is gradually crushed by gravity....The novel is a densely packed and offhandedly poetic 678 pages....It is about a city that teeters on the edge of total collapse and complete disaster, but that has the capacity to right itself (whew!) at the last possible second....The novel is a cross between Moby-Dick and Police Academy. Between Descartes and Disneyland. Between Henry James and Henry Winkler." Paul La Farge, Barnes and Noble Review

Review:

"A propulsive, mind-bending experience....The novel's chaotic sprawl, black humor and madcap digressions make it a thrilling rejoinder to the tidy story arcs portrayed on television and in most crime fiction....Whatever the book loses in polish it amply repays in its uncompromising originality." Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

Review:

"It's staggering to think this novel is De La Pava's major publishing launch: A Naked Singularity is considerably better than most debuts and has unquestionably rendered De La Pava an author to watch." Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

Review:

"'Buzz' is a dirty word in reviewing circles, being a close cousin to 'hype' and often having the same air about it of ad copy generated by publicity departments. It's the kind of word that should put you immediately on guard: Just where is this buzz coming from? Who is doing the buzzing? That said, sometimes buzz can be a good thing. Sergio De La Pava's A Naked Singularity is a case in point....A Naked Singularity is...a great American novel: large, ambitious, and full of talk....We can be thankful that this time the buzz did its work." About.com

Review:

"Exuberant, hyperverbal...a minor masterpiece of humor, paranoia, and even flashy technique." Toronto Star

About the Author

Sergio De La Pava is a writer who does not live in Brooklyn.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Shannon_G, January 12, 2013 (view all comments by Shannon_G)
Brilliant!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
bella78948, January 9, 2013 (view all comments by bella78948)
great!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
aliceunder, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by aliceunder)
An excellent read--easily my favourite book of 2012. A Naked Singularity is reminiscent of David Foster Wallace (one of the few books that lives up to this oft-banndied-about claim) if DFW wrote legal thrillers in the vein of John Grisham. It's rare to run across a book that combines philosophical rigor with an engrossing story, but de la Pava does it, striking a masterful balance between the two. At turns mindbending, heartbreaking, and honestly funny, A Naked Singularity is the only American novel I read in 2012 that deserves to be read in decades to come.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226141794
Author:
De La Pava, Sergio
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
Pava, Sergio De La
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20120431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
688
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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A Naked Singularity New Trade Paper
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Product details 688 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226141794 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A Naked Singularity is easily the funniest and most heartbreaking book I read this year. Told from the point of view of Casi, a 24-year-old public defender in Manhattan, its contents range from court transcripts to abstract philosophical discussions to absurdist conversations with next-door neighbors (not to mention an incredibly well-planned criminal caper that's as thrilling as any movie you saw this summer). Casi is intelligent, hilarious, and deeply committed to his clients — you'll root for him the whole way while simultaneously pondering our legal system, the culture that undergirds it, and maybe even your own morality. Now that's what I call a novel.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Originally self-published in 2008, this leviathan novel is not for the fainthearted, although its crazy, contemporary voice is so compelling and audacious that plodding through it to the end has its rewards. Narrator Casi is a brilliant young public defender whose hilarious interactions with criminals and colleagues are so absurd, and justice so often fleeting, that an existential angst quickly takes hold, morality is turned on its head, and nothing much is funny anymore. Plot strands abound, among them Casi's defense of a terminally ill drug addict, his advocacy of a Skittles-loving death row inmate whose execution might be a better fate than life in his dark cell, and a fellow lawyer who dreams up the perfect crime, which, despite its implausibility, gives the story momentum. Casi is humanized in scenes with his extended Colombian family — complete with a mute niece and a thoughtful sister — and with his friends, although his neighbors in Brooklyn are little more than surreal mouthpieces for the author's philosophical musings. In Casi's twisted postmodern world, the justice system is a farce, the heroes mostly aligned with the accused, and a person can care desperately but have so little power that his life becomes heavy enough to collapse into itself." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Sergio De La Pava brings linguistic energy and grim hilarity to this furious novel about the dysfunctional criminal-justice system. His novel evokes such maximalist masterpieces of the 1970s as Robert Coover's Public Burning and William Gaddis's J R — he has Coover's rage and Gaddis's ear — yet also grapples with current issues hot off the AP wire. Socially engaged, formally inventive, and intellectually challenging, A Naked Singularity is a remarkable performance."
"Review" by , "When I started reading A Naked Singularity, after a page or two I realized I was going to love it — and I did — but why? I've never sat down to analyze what it is that makes me read a book voraciously from cover to cover, fretting when I have to put it down and longing through the day to get back to it. I like, admire, appreciate a whole range of books and am happy to devote my time and attention to them, but the ones that take me over are rarer....Casi's voice is astonishing, cynical but compassionate, alive to the ridiculous and the pitiful and the horrific but never losing its commitment to morality."
"Review" by , "One of the best and most original novels of the decade....It's one of those fantastic, big, messy books like Darconville's Cat or Infinite Jest or Women and Men, though it's not really like any of those books or those writers....But see here: I refuse to divulge too much of the plot, because watching it unfold is one of the great joys of the novel....What I keep coming back to is the audacity of this novel, which is truly a towering, impressive work — De La Pava's not hesitant to break and then mirror the narrative with the story of professional boxer Wilfred Benitez, or insert a recipe, none of which hinder the narrative but rather shape the entirety of the book, making the actual story and its effect on the characters (and the characters' actions that shape the story, et cetera) more profound....If you like The Wire, if you like rewarding, difficult fiction, if you like literary, high-quality artistic and hilarious yet moving novels that are difficult to put down, I can't recommend A Naked Singularity enough."
"Review" by , "Casi's voice is the combination of brashness and world-weary humanity you'd find in a cynic who'd been scratched to reveal the disappointed idealist beneath....The whole feels like The Recognitions as legal thriller, a glorious mess with dashes of Powers, minor Pynchon, and White Noise, among many others....[I]n its ambitions and shortcomings and shaggy glory, A Naked Singularity is perhaps most reminiscent of The Broom of the System. So that bodes well."
"Review" by , "A Naked Singularity looks like an unreadable brick, bloated at 700 pages and likely dense with esoterica. Instead it is a fine encyclopedic romp in the Joyce/Pynchon/Wallace tradition, one with an effortless flow and arresting setting: the American judicial system as vortical funhouse."
"Review" by , "Weird, brilliant."
"Review" by , "The manic prose fights viciously against an ultimate collapse of good into evil — but not only is there no escape; there was never any such thing."
"Review" by , "A work of amazing breadth and humor....Challenging, addictively entertaining and not to be missed, A Naked Singularity heralds the arrival of a tremendous talent."
"Review" by , "I strongly encourage you to overcome whatever hesitation the phrase 700-page self-published novel may inspire in you and pick it up. It is a beautiful monster of a book, a novel that left this reviewer, at least, feeling like maybe there's some point in reading novels — and writing them — after all."
"Review" by , "A Naked Singularity is not about physics. It's about the American criminal justice system in a large and chaotic city, a place slowly crushed by hopelessness in the same way that an ancient star is gradually crushed by gravity....The novel is a densely packed and offhandedly poetic 678 pages....It is about a city that teeters on the edge of total collapse and complete disaster, but that has the capacity to right itself (whew!) at the last possible second....The novel is a cross between Moby-Dick and Police Academy. Between Descartes and Disneyland. Between Henry James and Henry Winkler."
"Review" by , "A propulsive, mind-bending experience....The novel's chaotic sprawl, black humor and madcap digressions make it a thrilling rejoinder to the tidy story arcs portrayed on television and in most crime fiction....Whatever the book loses in polish it amply repays in its uncompromising originality."
"Review" by , "It's staggering to think this novel is De La Pava's major publishing launch: A Naked Singularity is considerably better than most debuts and has unquestionably rendered De La Pava an author to watch."
"Review" by , "'Buzz' is a dirty word in reviewing circles, being a close cousin to 'hype' and often having the same air about it of ad copy generated by publicity departments. It's the kind of word that should put you immediately on guard: Just where is this buzz coming from? Who is doing the buzzing? That said, sometimes buzz can be a good thing. Sergio De La Pava's A Naked Singularity is a case in point....A Naked Singularity is...a great American novel: large, ambitious, and full of talk....We can be thankful that this time the buzz did its work."
"Review" by , "Exuberant, hyperverbal...a minor masterpiece of humor, paranoia, and even flashy technique."
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