New Fiction: Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick deWitt

Patrick de Witt’s last book, The Sisters Brothers, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and remains favorite handsell among Indie booksellers. That book was striking for its darkly comic voice and perspective—a western as it might be told by the Coen Brothers.

Undermajordomo Minor does for the fairy tale what The Sisters Brothers did for the western. Think the Brothers Grimm by way of Bram Stoker and Italo Calvino.

Fans include Emily St. John Mandel who said it “wears a fairytale cloak, but at its wondrous and fantastical heart lies an unexpectedly moving story about love, home, and the difficulty of finding one’s place in the world. Elegant, beautifully strange, and utterly superb.” And Jess Walter called it “a wonderfully wry and wise novel, and reading it is like coming across some twisted classic–Cervantes by way of Louis C.K.”

No surprise that this is an Indie Next pick. National media kicks off with an NPR Weekend Edition interview on September 12th; first reviews are scheduled for the NYT, Esquire, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe.

In his delightful and dark new novel, Booker nominee deWitt brings his amusingly off-kilter vision to a European folk tale. After nearly dying from an illness that claims his father, Lucy Minor, a bored and pompous young man, leaves his fairy tale–like hamlet of Bury to begin a new life as assistant to the majordomo at Castle Von Aux….DeWitt uses familiar tropes to lull the reader into a false sense of grounding, delivering with abundant good humor a fully realized, consistently surprising, and thoroughly amusing tale of longing, love, madness, and mirth.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

With Undermajordomo Minor, Patrick deWitt… [delivers] another dark but warm, farcical but human, one-of-a-kind genre entry. Undermajordomo Minor takes place in the indeterminate ‘long-ago-and-far-away’ of fairy tales and is populated by familiar characters run through deWitt’s patented funhouse mirror. Like The Sisters Brothers, though, what stands out…is deWitt’s dialogue. It’s 21st century Shakespearean comedy. It’s bonfire embers. It’s a Van der Graff generator. It’s Sinatra in a hat. It’s the Rice Krispies dudes. Snap. Crackle. Pop! DeWitt writes dialogue like a concert pianist: precise, rhythmic, thrilling. Undermajordomo Minor is an odd joy: a sideways fable about hope, a paean to the individual’s need for possibility.”
— Matt Nixon, The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN

Undermajordomo Minor (9780062281203) by Patrick deWitt. $26.99 hardcover. 9/15/15 on sale.

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