Anthony Marra's second novel is an epic tale of reinvention. Cinematic in scope, theme, and structure, Mercury Pictures Presents tells the stories of immigrants and refugees from Europe and Asia that converge in Los Angeles in the early 1940s. I was captivated by Marra's deft plotting and loved getting to know these flawed but very human characters as they navigated their families, careers, and romantic relationships. Recommended By Adam P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The epic tale of a brilliant woman who must reinvent herself to survive, moving from Mussolini's Italy to 1940s Los Angeles — a timeless story of love, deceit, and sacrifice from the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
A genuinely moving and life-affirming novel that's a true joy to read." Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
“One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022” BookPage
Like many before her, Maria Lagana has come to Hollywood to outrun her past. Born in Rome, where every Sunday her father took her to the cinema instead of church, Maria immigrates with her mother to Los Angeles after a childhood transgression leads to her father's arrest.
Fifteen years later, on the eve of America's entry into World War II, Maria is an associate producer at Mercury Pictures, trying to keep her personal and professional lives from falling apart. Her mother won't speak to her. Her boss, a man of many toupees, has been summoned to Washington by congressional investigators. Her boyfriend, a virtuoso Chinese American actor, can't escape the studio's narrow typecasting. And the studio itself, Maria's only home in exile, teeters on the verge of bankruptcy.
Over the coming months, as the bright lights go dark across Los Angeles, Mercury Pictures becomes a nexus of European émigrés: modernist poets trying their luck as B-movie screenwriters, once-celebrated architects becoming scale-model miniaturists, and refugee actors finding work playing the very villains they fled. While the world descends into war, Maria rises through a maze of conflicting politics, divided loyalties, and jockeying ambitions. But when the arrival of a stranger from her father's past threatens Maria's carefully constructed facade, she must finally confront her father's fate — and her own.
Written with intelligence, wit, and an exhilarating sense of possibility, Mercury Pictures Presents spans many moods and tones, from the heartbreaking to the ecstatic. It is a love letter to life's bit players, a panorama of an era that casts a long shadow over our own, and a tour de force by a novelist whose work The Washington Post calls "a flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles."
"Anthony Marra is a writer of boundless talent: He is a top-notch historian, a razor-sharp social critic, a deeply sensitive psychologist, and an exuberant satirist — all at the same time….A singularly pleasurable read — smart, sad, hilarious, and always full of heart." Nathan Hill, bestselling author of The Nix
"Crackling with wit and suffused with insight, Anthony Marra's new novel is as epic in sweep as a movie set yet delineates the inner workings of the human heart with a miniaturist's precision. Mercury Pictures Presents explores the endless give-and-take between life and art, the cost of integrity, and the ways we must make peace with the past in order to move toward the future." Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere
"Achingly beautiful…You laugh, then you sigh, then you weep….Extraordinary." Luis Urrea, bestselling author of The Devil's Highway and The Hummingbird's Daughter
"[Anthony] Marra has ascended to the top of the literary ranks." Booklist (Starred Review)
About the Author
Anthony Marra is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, winner of the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and longlisted for the National Book Award.