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Private Citizens

Private Citizens

5.0 1
by Tony Tulathimutte

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PRIVATE CITIZENS was named a best book of the year by New York Magazine/Vulture, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Nylon, Kirkus, Electric Literature and The Millions.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month in the Literature & Fiction Category
A Buzzfeed “Most Exciting” Book of 2016


PRIVATE CITIZENS was named a best book of the year by New York Magazine/Vulture, The New Yorker, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Nylon, Kirkus, Electric Literature and The Millions.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month in the Literature & Fiction Category
A Buzzfeed “Most Exciting” Book of 2016
A Flavorwire “Most Anticipated” Book of 2016

New York Magazine calls Private Citizens "the first great millennial novel."

Emma Cline calls it "brilliant."

From a brilliant new literary talent comes a sweeping comic portrait of privilege, ambition, and friendship in millennial San Francisco. With the social acuity of Adelle Waldman and the murderous wit of Martin Amis, Tony Tulathimutte’s Private Citizens is a brainy, irreverent debut—This Side of Paradise for a new era.

Capturing the anxious, self-aware mood of young college grads in the aughts, Private Citizens embraces the contradictions of our new century: call it a loving satire. A gleefully rude comedy of manners. Middlemarch for Millennials. The novel's four whip-smart narrators—idealistic Cory, Internet-lurking Will, awkward Henrik, and vicious Linda—are torn between fixing the world and cannibalizing it. In boisterous prose that ricochets between humor and pain, the four estranged friends stagger through the Bay Area’s maze of tech startups, protestors, gentrifiers, karaoke bars, house parties, and cultish self-help seminars, washing up in each other’s lives once again. 

A wise and searching depiction of a generation grappling with privilege and finding grace in failure, Private Citizens is as expansively intelligent as it is full of heart.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Carmela Ciuraru
This material is the stuff of easy satire, but Mr. Tulathimutte is keen to probe the underlying anxieties and insecurities of his characters, making them more empathetic and appealing than they might have been.
The New York Times Book Review - Manuel Gonzales
The setup is practically foolproof, but that shouldn't discount Tulathimutte's talent for comedy. A funny situation doesn't always lead to funny writing, and Tulathimutte frequently proves his ability to nurse laughs even from dire, awkward, uncomfortable situations, not just from explicitly amusing ones. Tulathimutte's niftiest feat, though, is his ability to subtly shift the reader's laughter from the kind engendered by a sense of superiority to the kind built on recognition…[Private Citizens] is a comedy…that is, in all respects, emotionally engaging and more than satisfying.
Publishers Weekly
It’s not easy being a Millennial, especially not in Tulathimutte’s debut, which traces the rising and falling fortunes of four recent Stanford grads just before the 2008 financial crisis. Cory finds herself unexpectedly at the helm of a Bay Area nonprofit that is as much about assuaging liberal guilt (perhaps especially her own) as it is about fostering genuine change. Linda and Henrik are still recovering—in their own unique and thoroughly imperfect ways—from their failed love affair, which in many ways defined their college years. And then there’s Will, whose virginity has finally been ended by his beautiful girlfriend, Vanya, whose desire for Internet fame may be getting in the way of their relationship. All four of them grapple with the gaps between their early promise and their current less-than-shining realities, and between their individual forms of privilege and the struggles of those around them. The novel’s structurally more formal first half is also the more successful; each of its lengthy chapters focuses on one of the four characters and reads almost like a well-developed short story. When their paths begin to cross again in the novel’s second half, the plots become more enmeshed but less satisfying. Nevertheless, Tulathimutte exhibits a talent for satire, and a willingness to embrace brutal reality and outright absurdity. (Feb.)
Emma Cline
Private Citizens is a brilliant novel—whip-smart, hilarious, and entirely engrossing.”
Angela Flournoy
Private Citizens is a combustible combination of acrobatic language, dead-on observations and hilarious, heartbreaking storytelling. Tulathimutte has created characters that are hard to forget—first they’ll make you want to strangle them, then you’ll end up falling in love with them.”
Anthony Marra
Private Citizens is the product of a whirring intellect with brilliance to burn...Reading Tony Tulathimutte is like watching a mad genius at work in his laboratory, conjuring the magnificent and the monstrous into life.”
“We know millennials as bogeychildren of alarmist trend pieces and the catchall hand-wringing of an aging commentariat. Tulathimutte is on the front line of writers showing that they’re also worthy heroes and heroines of the American novel.”
“Tony Tulathimutte’s brilliant debut novel is hilarious and heartbreaking all at once—a spot-on, satifical portrait of modern San Francisco and the privilege that inhabits it...Brimming with wit and heart, Private Citizens is an impressive debut from a sharp new voice.”
Paris Review
“If Evelyn Waugh and Tom Wolfe had a baby, one who wrote sensibly about the subset of people that Dave Eggers has written about whimsically, that baby would probably be Tony Tulathimutte.”
Alexandra Kleeman
“A hilarious and gutsy novel that does the braver thing, reinvesting the world we know with humanity. Tony Tulathimutte’s satire cuts deep, bur has a tender belly—and this book will leave you raw with feeling and aching at the ribs.”
“Tony Tulathimutte is a virtuoso of words... [his] writing edifies and entertains in language that’s highbrow yet unwholesome-gourmet junk food, like the cereal-milk-flavored soft-serve at Momofuku Milk Bar.”
Huffington Post
“A funny, unflinching portrayal of young people today, nasty neuroses and all.”
Jennifer duBois
Private Citizens is a freak of literature—a novel so authentic, hilarious, elegantly plotted, and heartbreaking that I’d follow it anywhere. Tony Tulathimutte is a singular intellect with an uncanny 40/20 vision on the world.”
Jennifer Percy
Rabidly intelligent, subversive, and heartfelt...An important and deliciously readable book by a brilliant new voice that poignantly upends contemporary ideas of authenticity.”
“Tulathimutte’s debut is poetic and verbose...an impressive start for an edgy new writer.”
Karan Mahajan
“Tony Tulathimutte writes sentences with a reckless verve that reminds one of the best of David Foster Wallace. He’s a major American talent.”
Benjamin Hale
Private Citizens is my favorite kind of novel...It enchants, entertains...makes me laugh my ass off, and never, ever doubts my intelligence.”
Sarah Nicole Prickett in Bookforum
“Tony Tulathimutte’s militantly ironic debut novel, Private Citizens, is set in San Francisco during a golden hour for upper millennials...[It] takes its title as a paradox, or as a challenge...The one thing the novel can still do better than other art forms is represent inner life...Tulathimutte’s realism tends to be hysterical as in ha ha...I was riddled by Tulathimutte’s ending.”
Maya Singer
“This season, my literary accessory of choice is Tony Tulathimutte’s Private Citizens.”
New York magazine
“The first great millennial novel.”
Village Voice
“It may well be time that we start asking whose writing will populate the ‘millennial canon.’ Tony Tulathimutte’s debut novel, Private Citizens, is the answer to that question.”
The Paris Review
“[A] hilarious portrait of youthful self-centeredness.”
“This season, my literary accessory choice is Tony Tulathimutte’s Private Citizens.”
SF Weekly
Private Citizens succeeds on the charm of its verisimilitude and the brilliance of its observations.”
“Tulathimutte’s accomplished, witty, often hilarious debut transforms the Bay Area into a Balzacian microcosm that seems to contain every germ of contemporary American life and youth.”
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-10-18
Tulathimutte's razor-sharp debut tracks a group of recent Stanford grads anxiously navigating post-college life in mid-2000s San Francisco. The two years since Steve Jobs gave their commencement address have not been particularly kind to Tulathimutte's struggling millennials. Not to Cory, a self-righteous bleeding heart, who found herself at the helm of a comically flailing progressive nonprofit; not to Linda, potentially brilliant and tremendously mean, who's traded in her literary ambitions for a kind of drug-induced free fall; and not to her college boyfriend, Henrik, a scientist with bipolar disorder whose graduate funding has just been unceremoniously cut. On the surface, things seem to be going slightly better for Will, a coder with an endless stream of Silicon Valley cash and an out-of-his-league girlfriend ("It was easy to imagine another twenty-four years passing before he met a girl of Vanya's caliber"), but in reality, he's at least as unmoored as the rest of them. He's struggling with his Asian identity—even being smart adheres to stereotype, he realizes—and while he's clinging to the relationship (thus the $20,000 engagement ring, so far unaccepted), he has to admit the whole enterprise has started to feel a bit "like paying the upkeep on a prize Lamborghini." Weaving their stories together, Tulathimutte follows the quartet through the post-apocalyptic landscape of post-collegiate angst. But as their lives spiral steadily out of control—Will becomes enmeshed in Vanya's venture capital-backed "lifecasting" startup, to catastrophic results; Linda is hit by a car—the characters become more than caustic millennial punch lines: they become human. Witty, unsparing, and unsettlingly precise, Tulathimutte empathizes with his subjects even as he (brilliantly) skewers them. A satirical portrait of privilege and disappointment with striking emotional depth.
From the Publisher
[A] razor-sharp debut...Witty, unsparing, and unsettlingly precise, Tulathimutte empathizes with his subjects even as he (brilliantly) skewers them. A satirical portrait of privilege and disappointment with striking emotional depth.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Tony Tulathimutte has written for VICE, AGNI, The Threepenny Review, Salon, The New Yorker online, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Stanford University, he has received an O. Henry Award and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. He lives in New York.

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Private Citizens 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago