In Zapata’s stirring debut, a man’s efforts to fulfill his grandfather’s last wishes leads him into the horror of post-Katrina New Orleans. On the eve of the Great Depression, Dominican expat novelist Adana Moreau finishes then destroys the sequel to her masterwork, Lost City. After her death, Adana’s 10 year-old, mixed-race son, Maxwell, is alone and adrift in New Orleans. A generation later in Chicago, Saul Drower discovers an unpublished manuscript in a box that his late grandfather requested be sent to now-renowned physicist Maxwell Moreau. Saul’s efforts to locate the elusive academic lead him to New Orleans just as Hurricane Katrina makes landfall. Joined by his childhood friend, Saul dives deep into the flooded city. Zapata expertly jumps between the story of Maxwell ’s youth and Saul’s attempt to return his manuscript. Histories collide as Saul navigates the storm-battered city in search of Maxwell and the prophetic words of Adana become realized. Zapata expertly blends the drama of the lost manuscript with the on-the-ground chaos and tumult caused by the storm. Digging into themes of regeneration and rejuvenation, Zapata’s marriage of speculative and realist styles makes for a harrowing, immersive tale that will appeal to fans of Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones. (Feb.)
"Zapata is a thrilling new talent. Alternating between the quest for a man in post-Katrina New Orleans for whom a mystery manuscript was left to be posthumously delivered, and the tale the manuscript itself tells, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is an ambitious novel that probes for friendship, the possibility of parallel worlds, and the way the real and the unreal meet at every moment."—Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree
"This bold, inventive debut moves through the twentieth century like a cyclone. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau opens with American Marines in Santo Domingo, tears on through New Orleans and reaches a roaring end in the Atacama Desert of Chile. Michael Zapata writes as skillfully of rebellion as he does of joy and every page of The Lost Book of Adana Moreau comes alive."—Idra Novey, author of Ways to Disappear and Those Who Knew
"Spellbinding and sage, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is a beautifully imagined saga. Adana Moreau's long lost novel unites a fascinating cast of characters with a hypnotic pull, weaving together their lives and transcending time. Michael Zapata steers us on a journey through history, friendship, family, the extraordinary, the ordinary, and even the stars. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is a rich and philosophically poignant homage to the metaphysical magic of storytelling.”—Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom
"The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is a hypnotic, whirling meditation on displacement and exile. This is a novel that cherishes the bonds between people even when those bonds are seemingly severed by time and distance. Zapata is a brilliant new voice who controls impermanence, asymmetry, and possibility like a classical composer with perfect pitch."—Maurice Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow
“The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is a profound novel about the persistence of stories and the singular power that books can conjure. Zapata is a luminous writer—a rule-breaker in the best way, and a storyteller who weaves between eras and genres with fluidity and grace. I loved every page of this bold debut.”—Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
“The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is a stunner—equal parts epic and intimate, thrilling and elegiac. As the novel bounds effortlessly through time, a powerful ode to the mysteries that echo across generations, the wonder of artistic creation, and the profound unknowability of what exactly constitutes "reality" emerges. Michael Zapata’s inventive, twisty plot will keep you reading through the night, and his indelible characters will make a home in your heart.”—Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
“Digging into themes of regeneration and rejuvenation, Zapata’s marriage of speculative and realist styles makes for a harrowing, immersive tale that will appeal to fans of Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones.”—Publishers Weekly
“Zapata's debut novel is a wonderful merging of adventure with thoughtful but urgent meditations on time, history, and surviving tragedy. The characters are richly drawn, and the prose is striking…. A luminous novel about the deep value of telling stories.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A mix of realist and speculative styles, this ambitious literary debut has earned Zapata comparisons to Jesmyn Ward.”—Boston Globe
"As intriguing as the plot may sound upfront, it can’t speak to the otherworldly beauty of Michael Zapata’s writing. Don’t even bother trying to mark all the gorgeous passages that give you goosebumps, because there wouldn’t be much left unmarked. Zapata’s lyrical style has firm roots in Gabriel García Márquez’s work, with a boldness of delivery to the tune of Jorge Luis Borges...Zapata has treated us to a thrillingly mysterious storyline with a beautiful payoff."—BookPage STARRED review
“Zapata spins an iridescent web of grief, loss, and memory….A lush, spellbinding tale.”—Booklist STARRED review
“An illuminating work on trauma and the transience of human existence… A heady literary and genre-bending novel for fans of Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes, and Adolfo Bioy Caseres.”—Library Journal STARRED review
“Exquisite… Zapata shows that the multiverses we crave are contained within each person, each event. Every new story we hear is a parallel universe in our own backyard, if only we cultivate the ability to listen.”—Little Village Magazine
“A blending of speculative discussions, meta writing, surreal situations and almost-fantastical realism…. In the span of a very tight novel, [Zapata] bounces through parallel Earths with the mission of preserving various fictional histories.”—Jackson Free Press
DEBUT In this labyrinthine debut novel about story's power to traverse time and space, the sf-loving Saul Drower hopes to fulfill his grandfather's dying wish—return a massive manuscript to Maxwell Moreau. But when the envelope is returned unopened, he embarks on a rabbit-hole journey with his investigative reporter best friend that takes them to the stricken post-Katrina New Orleans. Along the way, Saul uncovers his own family's secrets. Zapata unfolds the mystery of the manuscript's origins, and readers will be mesmerized by the unraveling of how the protagonists' lives interconnect. The author develops each of the characters with nuance—from Dominican immigrant Adana Moreau, the book's author; to her husband, the Last Pirate in the world; and to their son Max, an astrophysicist bent on proving the existence of the multiverse. The story-within-a-story structure might lose some, especially as the sections alternate through the decade. However, patient readers will be rewarded with an illuminating work on trauma and the transience of human existence. Echoes of authors from the Latin American Boom movement and traces of H.G. Wells combine to create a fascinating send up to science fiction. VERDICT A heady literary and genre-bending novel for fans of Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Fuentes, and Adolfo Bioy Caseres.—Shelley M. Diaz, BookOps, New York P.L. and Brooklyn P.L.
Two strangers are unknowingly connected by a rare manuscript.
Maxwell Moreau, born to a pirate father and a Dominican immigrant mother in New Orleans in 1920, has a childhood in which he is surrounded by his parents' stories. His mother, Adana Moreau, learns to read in English with Maxwell at her side. She writes a well-received science fiction novel, Lost City, but becomes gravely ill before finishing the sequel, A Model Earth; she and Maxwell burn the manuscript before she dies . The pirate travels north in search of work, and Maxwell is effectively an orphan when his father fails to meet him as planned in Chicago. Nearly 80 years later, a man named Saul is grieving the death of his grandfather, his only family after his parents were killed in a terrorist attack in Israel. Shortly before dying, his grandfather had asked Saul to mail a package for him to someone named Maxwell Moreau at a university in Chile. When the package is returned some time later, Saul takes on the task of finding Maxwell, now a well-known physicist who theorizes about parallel universes, to give him the papers inside—the same manuscript Adana Moreau had burned so many years earlier—and fulfill his grandfather's last request. This search takes Saul and his friend Javier to New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina, and the two reflect on their friendship and Saul's grandfather's work as a historian as Javier documents the extensive loss of life in an effort to bear witness. Zapata's debut novel is a wonderful merging of adventure with thoughtful but urgent meditations on time, history, and surviving tragedy. The characters are richly drawn, and the prose is striking: "They drove east, back the way they had come, and the road seemed to take on an extra-temporal quality, like they were traveling backward in time. We're already meeting ourselves coming the other way, he thought as the Cadillac sped on and on and on."
A luminous novel about the deep value of telling stories.