Indie Next ListJanuary 2014
I have always been a fan of dystopian novels, but when I picked up Sternbergh's novel I was unprepared for the post-dirty bomb New York that awaited me. This book is a sucker punch, plain and simple. Gritty, taut, and compelling, Shovel Ready paints a grim and savage portrait of a future where the rich have quite literally checked out and the rest of New York is treading water in the ashes of a once-great city. A fantastic read! -- Raymond Lawrason, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA
The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire.
Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.
Now he’s a hitman.
In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn’t ask questions, he works quickly, and he’s handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill. Spademan must navigate between these two worlds—the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy—to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.
Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant.
About the Author
Adam Sternbergh is the culture editor of The New York Times Magazine. Formerly an editor-at-large for New York, his writing has been featured in several other publications including GQ, The Times of London, and on the radio program This American Life. He lives in Brooklyn and is at work on a second Spademan novel.
www.adamsternbergh.com · @sternbergh
Praise for Shovel Ready…
“Bogart-cool. . . . Razor-sharp. . . . The page-turning mood of Shovel Ready is addictive, by turns death-metal brutal and darkly hilarious.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A searing debut. . . . Stark dialogue and high-volume grit, which Sternbergh enhances with sci-fi and dark humor. . . . [This] shady antihero may have a long life ahead.” —USA Today
“[A] sardonic thriller that serves up lots of barbs. . . . Uniquely engaging. . . . A great read, and its world still manages to hold you in its dirty clutches until the violent, fascinating conclusion.” —io9.com
“The best of two dark, amoral, existentially empty worlds!” —Time
“A lean thriller. . . . Sternbergh knows his way around the style, matching the staccato rhythms of violence to those of language. . . . [If] you want to know if it’s as awesome as it sounds. It is.” —Chicago Tribune
“Reads like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road set in New York. . . . [An] agreeably macho dystopia.” —Newsweek
“Sternbergh’s prose is lean and sparse. . . . Shovel Ready is exciting. It starts fast and the author keeps his foot on the gas. The thrills feel earned.” —The Globe and Mail
“Darkly funny.” —New York
“Memorably entertaining and garishly funny, Sternbergh’s debut novel is a winner.” —Cleveland Plain-Dealer
“The best kind of hard boiled noir.” —GQ
“Sternbergh comes busting out of the gate with this gritty noir.” —Flavorwire
“Thrilling. . . . Like Raymond Chandler on a sleepless cyberpunk jag. . . . Sternbergh adroitly delivers shadowy adventure tropes within a surprisingly breezy read.”—Time Out New York
“Gripping. . . . A sharp, thought-provoking thriller. . . . The strongest impact of the book is the constant feeling it gives that the ghosts of 9/11 still haunt New York.” —National Post
“Stunning. . . . Mixing dystopian science fiction and urban noir with a Palahniuk swagger, this could well be the first novel everybody is talking about.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Spademan is an unlikely yet tragic hero, and it takes a talented author to make a reader root for such a damaged and ruthless man. Lean prose is punctuated by moments of shocking violence that only serve to underscore the novel’s underlying humanity. . . . This is a gripping genre mash-up and a stunning debut.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Hardboiled as f*** with writing as fierce and sharp as a paper-cut.” —Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls
“With prose chiseled to hardboiled perfection and a tale that throbs with the keen ache of noir, Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready reads like William Gibson as directed with inky brilliance by Christopher Nolan. Debut novels as sleek, resonant and accomplished as this are a rare gift.” —Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me
“Shovel Ready tosses you off a precipice and you don’t know where you're going to land. Dark and often funny, with sparse, sharp language. Think Charlie Huston’s dystopian New York meets Richard Stark’s anti-hero— this is good, bitter fun.” —Toby Barlow, author of Sharp Teeth and Babayaga
“Shovel Ready is an elegant, lean and clever noir. It’s the best sci-fi thriller I’ve read since Snow Crash.” —Roger Hobbs, author of Ghostman
“A terrific debut. It has the grimy neon feel of Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan combined with a touch of Philip K. Dick’s gonzo cyberpunk.” —Austin Grossman, author of You and Soon I Will Be Invincible
“Compulsive! Savage future noir that crackles with deadpan wit.” —Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker