Synopses & Reviews
In the spirit of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
, a hilarious dystopian novel about a world ruled by fast food companies, where book clubs lead the revolution.
In a future not too many years from now, three giant fast food chains control the world. Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, in a lonely but highly-surveilled home office, answering calls on the complaint line. It's a boring job — he's been told what to say in every possible scenario. Except then someone who says he's Marco Polo starts calling... and what do you say to Marco Polo? Plus, Neetsa Pizza doesn't like it when you go off-script.
Meanwhile Leonard's sister keeps disappearing on secret missions with her book club, leaving him to take care of his little nephew, whom Leonard promptly loses. Which means Leonard has to go outside, which is how he finds out that book clubs are trying to overthrow the governing fast food chains.
This is, in short, a hilarious and dazzling debut novel in the spirit of A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, wherein Pythagorean theories about pizza, lost Jewish mystics, rare book librarians, nephews with dyslexia, and book club nerds, all add up to a chance at saving the world.
"Leonard is an exemplary 'Listener' in his job manning complaints hotline for the Pythagorean pizza chain, Neetsa Pizza. He is satisfied working from home, and has not ventured outside in over three years. His sister Carol says the world is broken, but Leonard's chooses to believe 'bits of the world might be damaged, but never permanently so,' and makes it 'his mission, through Listening, to heal some part of it.' Everything changes with a call from Marco, an imprisoned explorer returned from Cathay who refuses Leonard's pizza coupons and forces him to deviate from his safe, calculated responses. Cantor's wildly inventive debut novel is a mix of the comical and mystical, in a future ruled by fast-food conglomerates run by competing, antiquated sects. When Carol leaves Leonard with her son to attend missions with her book club, Leonard must finally leave the comforts of home to face the tumultuous world outside. Rife with deadpan humor and memorable characters mixed with time travel and supernatural powers, Cantor suspends disbelief and creates a loony world entirely of her own, which is terrifically funny and effortlessly enjoyable. This highly entertaining and adventurous tale will leave readers rooting for Leonard to save the world, with or without his coupons. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“It’s as if Kurt Vonnegut and Italo Calvino collaborated to write a comic book sci-fi adventure and persuaded Chagall to do the drawings. One of the freshest and mostly lively novels I have encountered for quite a while.” Jim Crace, author of Harvest and The Pesthouse
"A Highly Unlikely Scenario is a joyful book, full of the energy of undiluted invention and the thoughtful imagination of a writer to watch. It's a wild ride and much more — funny, intelligent and entirely pleasing." A.L. Kennedy, author of Day
"[A] rambunctiously smart, pun-spiked, and sweet dystopian romantic comedy....Glimmering with 'signs and wonders' and laced with satirical jabs at technological intrusiveness and deception, Cantor’s funny and charming metaphysical adventure and love story is a wily inquiry into questions of perception, knowledge, mystery, legacy, and love." Booklist
"Cantor’s novel will be a great hit for fans of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There’s a lot going on here, and all of it is amusing." Library Journal
"Cosmic and comic, full of philosophy, mysticism and celestial whimsy. A story of listening, of souls and bodies, that is at once both profoundly wild and wildly profound." Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe
“Part Italo Calvino, part Ray Bradbury, in this extraordinary novel, Rachel Cantor explores questions of self-knowledge, true love and family, all while saving the world — and winning readers — in the past, present, and future.” Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief
In the not-too-distant future, competing giant fast food factions rule the world. Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, the Pythagorean pizza chain, in a lonely but highly surveilled home office, answering calls on his complaints hotline. It’s a boring job, but he likes it — there’s a set answer for every scenario, and he never has to leave the house. Except then he starts getting calls from Marco, who claims to be a thirteenth-century explorer just returned from Cathay. And what do you say to a caller like that? Plus, Neetsa Pizza doesn’t like it when you go off script.
Meanwhile, Leonard’s sister keeps disappearing on secret missions with her “book club,” leaving him to take care of his nephew, which means Leonard has to go outside. And outside is where the trouble starts.
A dazzling debut novel wherein medieval Kabbalists, rare book librarians, and Latter-Day Baconians skirmish for control over secret mystical knowledge, and one Neetsa Pizza employee discovers that you can’t save the world with pizza coupons.
About the Author
Rachel Cantor's short stories have appeared in the Paris Review, One Story, Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, New England Review, Fence, and elsewhere. They have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times, and have been short-listed by both Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Awards. Rachel has received fellowships from the Yaddo Corporation, the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and elsewhere, and has been a scholar at the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Wesleyan Writing Conferences.