Overthrow is legitimately great psychological fiction. Crain excels at describing, with precision and economy, intimacy’s dance of knowledge, ignorance, and pretense.

Anthony Domestico, The Boston Globe

Overthrow by Caleb Crain

A novel about the fate of candor, good will, and the utopian spirit in a world where technology and surveillance are weaponizing human relationships

One autumn night, as a grad student named Matthew is walking home from the subway, a handsome skateboarder catches his eye. Leif, a poet as well as a skater, invites Matthew to take part in an experiment with tarot cards. It’s easier to know what’s in other people’s minds than most people realize, Leif and his friends claim. Do they believe in telepathy? Can they actually do it? Instead of writing his dissertation, Matthew soon finds himself falling for Leif and entangled with his friends, who are as idealistic as the Occupy encampment they like to visit.

When the group runs afoul of a government contractor, an avalanche of news coverage, internet outrage, and legal repercussions overwhelms them. Elspeth and Raleigh, two of Leif’s oldest friends, will see their relationship tested by the strain of criminal charges. Chris and Julia, who drifted into the group more recently, will have their loyalties questioned. Diana, a hardheaded sociologist, will need to find a way to stand with her friends without compromising her skepticism. And Matthew, entranced by the man at the center of it all, will have to decide what he owes Leif and how much he’s willing to give. All seven will be forced to reckon with the catch-22s of transparency and the insidious natures of power and privilege.

Overthrow is about the aftermath of idealism—about what happens after new technologies have begun to change the boundaries that we imagine around our selves. Caleb Crain has captured with astonishing sensitivity, acuity, and grace the unease and ambiguity that threaten our contemporary lives, and has written a beautiful novel about the redemptive possibilities of love and friendship.

Coming August 27, 2019!

But you can buy your copy now! It doesn’t have to be online—just ask at your local bookstore!

Available at: your local independent bookstoreBarnes & NobleAmazonViking


A 19th-century social novel for the 21st-century surveillance state. Frequently alluding to Henry James’s “The Princess Casamassima,” another story of young radicals, Crain subjects his characters to quandaries that test their precariously entwined identities. The novel almost dares readers to object to its inwardness — “It’s like there’s a new sumptuary law against introspection,” one of the four complains — but its tender, psychologically precise prose feels like a bulwark against the exposure it takes for a subject.

Julian Lucas, New York Times Book Review

Overthrow captures the depth of disconnection that the online world creates, and the dread and depression it sows. . . . Crain’s chief goal is to put a narrative shape around the inchoate sense of dread that we have around technology, the way we sense we’re being manipulated in ways we can’t quite pinpoint. And in that regard, “Overthrow” accomplishes its mission. . . . Swapping human connection for an algorithm of convenience is a lousy bargain, Crain argues. His novel is a sensitive, provocative plea to recognize what gets lost in the exchange.

Mark Athitakis, Washington Post

Advance praise:

What a brilliant, terrifying, and entertaining book Caleb Crain has written! It is part subtle novel of contemporary manners, part intellectual legal thriller, and part prophetic dystopia: Henry James meets Bonfire of the Vanities against the backdrop of the Occupy movement and the growing surveillance power of Leviathan. It’s a novel to be read now and reread years from now—a tour de force.

—Keith Gessen

There’s an excerpt in the August 2019 issue of Harper’s magazine. Excerpt from 'Overthrow' by Caleb Crain in August 2019 Harper's

Bookstore events:

Social media sightings of the advance galleys:

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very wise and beautiful novel, coming in August

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Current mood (and a new novel from Caleb Crain!)

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