Synopses & Reviews
One morning in the park James Sim discovers a man, crumpled on the ground, stabbed in the chest. In the man's last breath, he whispers his confession: Samedi.
What follows is a spellbinding game of cat and mouse as James is abducted, brought to an asylum, and seduced by a woman in yellow. Who is lying? What is Samedi? And what will happen on the seventh day?
"'Unspecified cataclysm threatens in this unconventional debut spy fable from poet Ball. As mysterious suicides are staged daily on the White House lawn, James Sim, a loner and professional mnemonist (someone who can memorize large amounts of data), comes upon a man stabbed in a park. The man's dying words cast light on garbled notes left by the White House suicides that threaten something very big and very bad in seven days' time. Following the dead man's clues (over seven days in as many chapters), Sim cracks ciphers, explores hidden passages of a fictional, labyrinth-like 'verisylum' and struggles to find a straight answer about Samedi, the figure seemingly at the center of the matter. The suicides continue, and the only good advice comes from female pickpocket Grieve, who goes by false names, spies on Sim and falls for him. There are flashbacks to conversations with Sim's childhood imaginary friend (an invisible red owl named Ansilon) and a detailed, history of the fictional 18th-century inventor of the verisylum. Ball writes scenes that read like prose poetry and cultivates a Beckett-like alienated digression rather than standard plot mechanics. The results are highly imaginative but hard going. (Sept.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Samedi the Deafness is an urgent book...trying intently to tell us something about our world and our way of living, and it challenges us to listen. No serious reader can refuse this challenge." Paul La Farge, author of Haussmann, or the Distinction
"A stunning debut, this work is a dream-like spy novel set in an asylum for the curing of chronic liars. Like a tale by Lewis Carroll or a film by David Lynch, [it] teeters on the edge of unreality, plunges right in, and comes back again full circle." Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder
"A strange modern thriller Kafka meets Hitchcock laden with questions about truth, identity, memory, and the importance of names, a story that casts an unsettling spell." Keith Donohue, author of The Stolen Child
About the Author
Jesse Ball was born in Long Island, the second child of Robert and Catherine Ball. Educated at Vassar College and Columbia University, he has lived at times in Europe, and has worked as an editor, a croupier, a tutor, and a photographer. His first volume, March Book, appeared in 2004, followed by Vera & Linus (2006). His drawings were published in 2006 in Iceland in the volume Og svo kom nottin. Work of his has appeared in many major domestic and international journals, and was included in Best American Poetry 2006. Jesse Ball was a Spy but has Retired to the Country, a website, showcases much work of writing and drawing.