02/19/2013 05:31 pm ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

'Schroder A Novel' By Amity Gaige: The Book We're Talking About

Schroder: A Novel by Amity Gaige
Twelve Books, $21.99
Out now

What is it about?
In this novel, Eric Schroder, who had changed his name to Kennedy, went on the run with his six-year-old daughter Meadow in the midst of a custody battle. Told as a first-person narration from his prison cell addressing his estranged wife, Schroder's tale of his "adventure" with his daughter is both disturbing and emotionally complex.

Why are we talking about it?
Translation rights are already sold for 14 territories, and this is being toted with blurbs from Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Franzen among others. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive; this artful title could just be one of those rare literary/mainstream crossover books that makes it big.

Who wrote it?
In 2006, Amity Gaige was recognized as one of the '5 under 35' writing talents by the National Book Foundation. This is her third book. She's currently visiting writer at Amherst College.

Who will read it?
People who enjoy psychological tales and unreliable narrators. Fans of Gone Girl looking for a more literary yet equally sociopathic read.

What do the reviewers say?

"A book that works as both character study and morality play, filled with questions that have no easy answers."

"Adventure or abduction, his tale makes for a fascinating mixture of candor and self-justification... it deserves all the success it can find."

Impress your friends:

The story is based on the Christian Gerhartsreiter case, in which a con man who used the fake name Clark Rockefeller pretended to be a member of the Rockefeller family - and tried to kidnap his young daughter. A book about that case, The Man In The Rockefeller Suit, was published in 2011.

Opening line:
What follows is a record of where Meadow and I have been since our disappearance. My lawyer says I should tell the whole story. Where we went, what we did, who we met, etc. As you know, Laura, I'm not a reticent person. I'm talkative - you could even say chatty - for a man. But I haven't spoken a word for days. It's a vow I've taken.

Typical passage:
I'd gotten used to the silence between us, Laura. I knew it was cruel not to call you, to tell you that Meadow was all right, that it wasn't as bad as you were thinking. But I was used to your absence, and we were both used to cruelty by then, I mean the casual cruelty of people dismantling their life together. Odd, how there's so much deliberating before a divorce. Such a lot of shilly-shallying, nobody wanting to be the bad guy. But then once the declarations are made, the lines are drawn, a desperate power grab commences, and there's no more chivalry, no more nuance, no more delicacy. Only winning or losing.



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