Book of Extraordinary Tragedies (Paperback)
From the best-selling author Joe Meno, a moving novel about the impossibility of fate and family
"Joe Meno is one of those Chicago writers floating around so long that we take his sturdiness for granted. His latest, though, Book of Extraordinary Tragedies, (Sept. 6) the tale of Evergreen Park musical prodigies who reunite after ages of failure and loss, is a career best, a reminder of how unusually hopeful and buoyant Meno has remained all this time. It's a charmer and a breakthrough."
--Chicago Tribune, Fall Books Preview
"As in all his tender and edgy fiction, Meno's poetic prose is infused with sweet compassion and sharp protest as he marvels over 'the beautiful failure of all human beings struggling against their own glorious mistakes' while, somehow, finding a way forward."
--Booklist, starred review
Aleksandar and Isobel are siblings and former classical music prodigies, once destined for greatness. As the only Eastern European family growing up on their block on the far southside of Chicago, the pair were inseparable until each was forced to confront the absurdity of tragedy at an early age and abandon their musical ambitions.
Now in their twenties, they find themselves encountering ridiculous jobs, unfulfilling romantic relationships, and the outrageousness of ordinary life. Doomed by fate, a family history of failure, an odd mother, an absent father, and a younger brother with a peculiar fondness for catastrophes, the two siblings have all but given up.
But when an illness forces Isobel and her three-year-old daughter to move back into the family home, Aleks becomes deeply involved in the endless challenges that surround his relatives. Once Isobel begins playing cello again, Aleks comes to see a world of possibility and wonder in the lives of his extraordinarily complicated family.
Told in Aleks's exuberant voice, and full of as much comedy as tragedy, this entertaining novel asks, Is it ever truly possible to separate our fates from those we've come to love?
About the Author
Joe Meno is a fiction writer and journalist who lives in Chicago. Winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a finalist for the Story Prize, Meno is the best-selling author of several novels and short story collections including Marvel and a Wonder, The Great Perhaps, The Boy Detective Fails, and Hairstyles of the Damned. He is a professor in the English and Creative Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.