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In Jonathan Dee’s elegant and explosive new novel, Sugar Street, an unnamed male narrator has hit the road. Rid of any possible identifiers, his possessions amount to $168,548 in cash stashed in an envelope under his car seat. Vigilantly avoiding security cameras, he drives until he hits a city where his past is unlikely to track him down, and finds a room to rent from a less-than-stable landlady whose need for money outweighs her desire to ask questions. He seems to have escaped his former self. But can he? In a story that moves with swift dark humor and insight, Dee takes us through his narrator’s attempt to disavow his former life of privilege and enter a blameless new existence. Having opted out of his material possessions and human connections, the pillars of his new self – simplicity, kindness, above all invisibility – grow shakier as he butts up against the daily lives of his neighbors in their politically divided working-class city. With the suspense of a crime thriller and the grace of our best literary fiction, Dee unspools the details of our unlikely hero’s former life and his developing new one in a drumbeat roll up to a shocking final act. Dee has been compared by the Wall Street Journal to authors such as Jonathan Franzen and Jennifer Egan for his expansive, contemporary, social novels; Sugar Street is a leaner, more personal, but still uncannily timely look at the volatile America of today. A risky, engrossing and surprisingly visceral story about a white man trying to escape his own troubling footprint and start his life over.
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