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Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstoreby Robin Sloan
Mixing large doses of high tech, a mysterious bookstore, and an entire army of bibliophiles, this charming novel is a booklover's dream. You will be entranced by Mr. Penumbra's bookstore, with its shadowy customers and shelves teetering on the edge of vertigo, along with the twists and turns of this tale.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is a treat for the literary puzzle/code-breaking techno-savvy set. (Is that a set?) There's much more to the dusty three-story bookstore full of completely incomprehensible titles than meets the eye. Sloan does a slick job of pairing old-world secret society mystery with cutting-edge unimaginable technology. Who knew a 15th century German typesetter would be so clever as to send a message forward into the future? This is a fun read — fast and quite amusing — with everything from goldsmiths to Google being central to the plot.
Synopses & Reviews
A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything — instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clienteles behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstores secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.
“A real tour de force [and] a beautiful fable....The reader is swept along by Sloan's enthusiasm.” George Saunders, BLIP Magazine
“Part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem....Eminently enjoyable, full of warmth and intelligence.” The New York Times Book Review
“A book about passion — for books, for history, for the future....There is nothing about Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore that I didn't love.” Cory Doctorow
“An irresistible page-turning novel.” Newsweek
“One of the most thoughtful and fun reading experiences you're likely to have this year....There's so much largehearted magic in this book.” NPR
“A jaunty, surprisingly old-fashioned fantasy about the places where old and new ways of accessing knowledge meet...[Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore] cleverly uses the technological age in the service of its fantasy....Sloan's ultimate answer to the mystery of what keeps people solving Penumbra's puzzle is worth turning pages to find out.” Tess Taylor, San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] winning literary adventure....Sloan grounds his jigsawlike plot with Big Ideas about the quest for permanence in the digital age.” Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
“Fantastic....I loved diving into the world that Sloan created, both the high-tech fantasyland of Google and the ancient analog society. It's packed full of geeky allusions and wonderful characters, and is a celebration of books, whether they're made of dead trees or digits.” Jonathan H. Liu, Wired, GeekDad
“Sloan makes bits and bytes appear beautiful....The rebel's journey to crack the code — grappling with an ancient cult, using secret passwords and hidden doorways — will excite anyone's inner child.” The Economist
“What makes Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore so impressive is Sloan's great gift for storytelling and his cast of brilliant, eccentric characters. Think of this novel as part Haruki Murakami, part Dan Brown and part Joseph Cornell: a surreal adventure, an existential detective story and a cabinet of wonders at which to marvel.” Carmela Ciuraru, Newsday
“Beguiling....The plot is as tight as nesting boxes, or whatever their digital equivalent....Sly and infectious.” Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Robin Sloan grew up in Michigan and now splits his time between San Francisco and the Internet.
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