Overthrow

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.

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Reviews:

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

Against the plot concerning our main characters lies a much more sinister counter-plot; against each attempt at activist hacking, a reassertion of state-mandated counter-hacking. The central paradox of reading Crain’s novel is that even as we learn more, these revelations often return us to just how little it is we know at all. . . . It is, at heart, a novel that repeatedly asks: What makes a good reader?

Jane Hu, Bookforum

Necessary Errors was rigorously naturalistic and finely polished. Overthrow is playfully fantastical—Crain frequently invokes Shakespearean romance—and, if not plot-driven, at least plot-friendly. Henry James is still the tutelary spirit; but it’s the James of The Princess Casamassima (alluded to on several occasions) and The Sacred Fount—the James interested in radical politics and unashamed of messing around with the supernatural. Overthrow, in other words, does what a second novel should do: It risks something.

Anthony Domestico, The Boston Globe

It’s a novel that keeps faith in even the unlikeliest candidates for where redemption might next come.

Nicholas Dames, Public Books

The novel is virtuosic in mining beauty and pathos from the texture of daily life; reading Crain’s prose can feel like seeing a world made hyper-real, crisper and more intense, as through some phenomenological Instagram filter.

Garth Greenwell, the New Yorker

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

A carefully unsentimental book.

Annalisa Quinn, NPR

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

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

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~WeLcOmE tO tHe FuTuRe~ Today's pairing asks us to question what we take for granted, beginning with our trust of the powers that be and going so far as to undermine our understanding of our own consciousness. Overthrow, by @cablecrain, is the Henry James social novel of the future/present: lots of drama, but perhaps not the plot you hoped for. Its story follows an offshoot of Occupy protesters who seek to explore and understand "alternative" ways of knowing, using tools like tarot and intuitive telepathy to cross the divide of our mental isolation. Using multiple viewpoints, Crain does an excellent job of undermining faith, belief, and all confidence that you know what's real. The story combines all my favorite parts of a good time: waify gaybois with frail mental constitutions, capitalists who think they (kn)own everything, government surveillance, and the overwhelming conviction that nothing/everything is True. Grab a can, get your book, and have a good time! ✨ Also, if tarot tickles your fancy, head on over to @tarotbymason to check out my burgeoning tarot practice — I'd love to do a reading for you! 🔮 #overthrow #calebcrain #books #reading #bookreview #book #whiteclaw #pairing #reading #tarot

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Arrived today!

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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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