The title character of Savage's debut novel, Firmin, is a civilized rat, born in a used bookstore in Boston's grimy Scollay Square. Looking at the world "through cracks," and desperately hungry, he gnaws his way through a book, and -- miracle of miracles -- teaches himself to read. Alas, the "cracks" widen and the world opens its arms to him. Well, sort of. For in fact, the more literate Firmin becomes, the more alienated he feels from the other members of his species. Unable to communicate with the humans he comes to love (despite repeated efforts to vocalize the words he has learned), he is left isolated and alone, a rat in search of his "destiny."
Filled with longing and loss, Firmin also details the demolition of a piece of history. For as Firmin grows up, the buildings of 1960s Scollay Square are coming down. A profound study of alienation and the heartbreaking obscurity of the outsider, Firmin is also a piercing commentary on the human condition in an ever-changing society. Savage weaves an inventive and dreamlike tale, by turns hilarious and startlingly moving, completely outlandish yet utterly credible, and sure to bring a smile of deep satisfaction to its readers. (Summer 2006 Selection)