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The real-life Cinderella story of how A Naked Singularity achieved publication is itself the stuff of great fiction. Sergio de la Pava originally self-published his heavyweight novel in 2008. Rather than land silently on the stereotypical scrapheap of vanity press efforts, however, de la Pava's debut began to attract the attention of critics, bloggers and authors such as Lian Hearn (Tales of the Otori). Their rave reviews caught the eye of a publicity manager at University of Chicago Press who read the book and immediately recognized its genius. Now, a wider audience will have the chance to discover this work of amazing breadth and humor.
Casi never loses a case. The 24-year-old Manhattan public defender bobs and weaves his way through the intricacies and inanities of the New York legal system as nimbly as a lightweight champ, scoring plea bargains and dismissals for a long list of drug offenders, petit larcenists and immigrants selling hotdogs without a license. Despite his talent, Casi's life is far from ideal. At work, he faces circular and surreal discussions with clients and judges as well as the passionate but illogical philosophizing of his coworkers. In his private life, financial debt piles up and he struggles with inexplicable ear pain, while his preschool-aged niece frightens his family by ceasing to speak, and his neighbors begin bizarre psychological experiments involving The Honeymooners. In his leisure time, Casi reads about boxer Wilfred Benitez, whose rise and fall mirrors Casi's own.
When a client turns police informant, Casi becomes privy to knowledge of a $10 million drug deal. His coworker Dane, whose moral compass always points to himself as true north, approaches Casi with a scheme to snatch the dough, but Casi refuses to participate, until he finally loses a case and his entire world begins to unravel.
At nearly 700 pages, A Naked Singularity is no casual read, but packed with thought-provoking Socratic dialogues, ruminations on the nature of the time-space continuum and legal satire, it is nonetheless a sometimes heartbreaking, always hilarious romp leading up to its ultimate heist. Though told primarily through dialogue, the format also encompasses court reports, an epic poem and a touching exchange of letters between Casi and a death row inmate with the mind of a child. Taking in this feast of words may require several sittings, but the bitingly funny dialogue and an inevitable attachment to Casi will keep readers coming back for another round. Challenging, addictively entertaining and not to be missed, A Naked Singularity heralds the arrival of a tremendous talent.
***This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness Trade Edition. Sign up for this free and awesome newsletter at http://www.shelf-awareness.com for the latest news and reviews! This review refers to an ARC provided by Shelf Awareness.***