Blackouts: A Novel (Hardcover)

Blackouts: A Novel By Justin Torres Cover Image
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Winner of the National Book Award for Fiction
Short-listed for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction, the California Book Award for Fiction, and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction
Winner of Tournament of Books

A Best Book of the Year: The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Washington Post, Time, Fresh Air, Vanity Fair, NBC News, The BBC, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, Granta, The New York Public Library, The Washington Independent Review of Books, Electric Literature, Them, Literary Hub, BookPage, Gay Times, Book Soup, Five Books, Southwest Books

“Like no book I have ever read.” —Ari Shapiro, NPR’s All Things Considered

Out in the desert in a place called the Palace, a young man tends to a dying soul, someone he once knew briefly but who has haunted the edges of his life: Juan Gay. Playful raconteur, child lost and found and lost, guardian of the institutionalized, Juan has a project to pass along, one built around a true artifact of a book—Sex Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns—and its devastating history. This book contains accounts collected in the early twentieth century from queer subjects by a queer researcher, Jan Gay, whose groundbreaking work was then co-opted by a committee, her name buried. The voices of these subjects have been filtered, muted, but it is possible to hear them from within and beyond the text, which, in Juan’s tattered volumes, has been redacted with black marker on nearly every page. As Juan waits for his end, he and the narrator recount for each other moments of joy and oblivion; they resurrect loves, lives, mothers, fathers, minor heroes. In telling their own stories and the story of the book, they resist the ravages of memory and time. The past is with us, beside us, ahead of us; what are we to create from its gaps and erasures?

A book about storytelling—its legacies, dangers, delights, and potential for change—and a bold exploration of form, art, and love, Justin Torres’s Blackouts uses fiction to see through the inventions of history and narrative. A marvel of creative imagination, it draws on testimony, photographs, illustrations, and a range of influences as it insists that we look long and steadily at what we have inherited and what we have made—a world full of ghostly shadows and flashing moments of truth. A reclamation of ransacked history, a celebration of defiance, and a transformative encounter, Blackouts mines the stories that have been kept from us and brings them into the light.

About the Author

Justin Torres is the author of We the Animals, which won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, was translated into fifteen languages, and was adapted into a feature film. He was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35,” a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House, and The Washington Post. He lives in Los Angeles, and teaches at UCLA.

Praise For…

“Sweeping, ingenious . . . A kiss to build a dream on.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“An extraordinary achievement . . . A perfect book.”
—Bill Goldstein, Weekend Today in New York

“Torres swings for the bleachers in Blackouts, a transfixing collage of gorgeous prose and manipulated illustrations . . . It’s easily 2023’s sexiest novel . . . A tour de force. Run, don't walk, to buy it.”
—Hamilton Cain, Star Tribune

“As ambitious and bold as it is beautifully elegiac, this dynamic novel captures the act of storytelling as though one’s life depends on it . . . An atmospheric, brilliant novel.
—Lauren LeBlanc, The Boston Globe

“The supreme pleasure of [Blackouts] is its slow obliteration of any firm idea of reality . . . Torres haunts this book full of ghosts like a ghost himself, and with this novel, he has passed the haunting on.”
—Hugh Ryan, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“Shimmering, fable-like . . . An ingenious assemblage of research, vignette, image and conceit . . . Playful and mysterious, there’s much in it to admire.”
—Charles Arrowsmith, The Washington Post

“A surreal, expansive, audacious excavation of queer history and identity.”
—David Canfield, Vanity Fair

“A transfixing and emotional examination of history . . . [Blackouts] illuminates the ways in which the lives and experiences of marginalized people have long been omitted from written records.”
—Megan McCluskey, Time

“Artfully blur[s] history, autobiography and fiction . . . Beautiful.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“If you locked Shirley Jackson and David Wojnarowicz in a room together, they might invent the kind of moldering dreamworld that Justin Torres conjures in [Blackouts] . . . [A] glorious book.”
—Beejay Silcox, The Guardian

“An experimental journey into the annals of queer history that is equal parts intergenerational love letter and homoerotic fever dream.”
—Jeremy Childs, Los Angeles Times

“A vital novel about the erasure of queer history.”
—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

“A dreamy novel that unfurls among mixed media and Socratic dialogues, moving freely between fact and fiction as it proposes and complicates questions about how history is made.”
—Joshua Barone, The New York Times

“Dazzling . . . Torres has created his own queer history story through the eyes of the narrator learning from Juan through art, poetry, and more. The result is prismatic and beautiful.”
—Sarah Neilson, Shondaland

“A triumph.”
—Christian Paz, Vox

“Each page of Blackouts is like a lens that Torres clicks into place, some of them clarifying your vision, others obscuring it, until, eventually, you can see.”
—Tope Folarin, The Atlantic

“Irresistible . . . [An] ambitious, unruly novel of ideas . . . [and] a deeply moving queer love story.”
—Steven Pfau, Chicago Review of Books

“As demanding and beautifully difficult as it is seductive, disarming, and important.”
—Brontez Purnell, BOMB

“Disorientation is a pleasure in [Blackouts] . . . An earnest project that does not seek to distill settled conclusions from the queer past.”
—Colton Valentine, Bookforum

Blackouts soars . . . A rare masterpiece.”
—Christopher Bollen, Interview

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374293574
ISBN-10: 0374293570
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: October 10th, 2023
Pages: 320
Language: English