A wildly inventive, exhilarating debut narrated by a young woman meditating on her Czech ancestors’ ‘falling curse’, her twin brother’s fall from a window, and the malleable, breakable bonds keeping her family from falling apart.
One thing that the city of Prague is famous for is throwing men out of windows. The word for this is defenestration.
In 1895, Marta’s great-great-grandfather Jiri was said to have given a gentle push to the back of a stonemason for having wronged him. The stonemason fell to his death and the family fled the Czech capital for the American Midwest, where they set up a new life.
So begins the story of Marta and her brother Nick, deeply interwoven twins haunted by the mysterious curse that has plagued their family for centuries, one that has doomed them to suffer various types of falls. And when Nick falls out of a window and ends up seriously injured, Marta embarks on a heart-breaking quest to discover whether or not his fall was intentional, and to stop her family from falling apart.
Grappling with family myths, sexual identity and mental illness, Defenestrate is a novel about the kinds of tales we tell ourselves and others in order to survive – and how those stories can both protect and betray us. From a major new voice in literary fiction, Defenestrate is a novel about belonging, and finding one’s place in a world in which you are, quite literally, plummeting.
Renee Branum writes with exceptional wisdom and tenderness about inheritance, obsession, and the power of storytelling... Defenestrate builds to a symphonic, exhilarating end that embraces uncertainty alongside the miracle of surviving the greatest of falls. -- Sanae Lemoine, author of THE MARGOT AFFAIR Branum's prose lights up the imagination, every line a discovery and a pleasure. Beyond simple elegance or precision, she weaves sense and simile so stunningly, you have to throw your hands up and say "damn!... I was constantly thrilled by the beauty and insight of her words' -- Dina Nayeri, author of THE UNGRATEFUL REFUGEE and REFUGE The wonders of this beautiful novel come to you the way ghosts do, almost invisibly, and from the past. The voice is haunted too, by family secrets, the history of Prague, an addiction, and much else... This is a fine and wonderful book. -- Charles Baxter, author of THE SUN COLLECTIVE Original...with an idiosyncratic humour that reminded me of Ottessa Moshfegh... there are some wonderful digressions about...comic genius that shouldn't really work, but do. -- Alasdair Lees * Daily Mail, *Books to Look Out For 2022* *
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