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Loner
Cover of Loner
Loner
A Novel
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"Powerful." —Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

Named a best book of the year by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage
  • One of the most anticipated novels of the fall from New York magazine, Glamour, Lit Hub, Boston magazine, The Millions, and BookPage
    David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.

    Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.

    Loner turns the traditional campus novel on its head as it explores ambition, class, and gender politics. It is a stunning and timely literary achievement from one of the rising stars of American fiction.
  • "Powerful." —Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

    Named a best book of the year by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage
  • One of the most anticipated novels of the fall from New York magazine, Glamour, Lit Hub, Boston magazine, The Millions, and BookPage
    David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.

    Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.

    Loner turns the traditional campus novel on its head as it explores ambition, class, and gender politics. It is a stunning and timely literary achievement from one of the rising stars of American fiction.
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    About the Author-
    • Teddy Wayne, the author of Loner, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, and Kapitoil, is the winner of a Whiting Writers' Award and an NEA Fellowship as well as a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, PEN/Bingham Prize, and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He writes regularly for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. He lives in New York.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      April 4, 2016
      Wayne’s third novel (after The Love Song of Jonny Valentine) is about a Harvard freshman who becomes obsessed with his attractive classmate. David is an intelligent yet largely unremarkable kid from New Jersey, who upon beginning his first college semester, finds himself in the all too familiar situation of being lumped into the second tier socially. But when he spies the pretty Veronica during orientation, he’s not just smitten; he’s determined—at the cost of everything else in his life—to catch her eye: “This was going to be the best year of my life, a Technicolor romp after so many donnish slogs.” David begins dating Veronica’s roommate, Sara, solely to be close to and to spy on Veronica, and by following her around he manages to enroll in her English class, where one day she asks him for help on an essay on the voyeuristic themes of Henry James’s Daisy Miller. David’s efforts and manipulations to get Veronica to notice his devotion grow increasingly discomforting to the reader, a credit to the sly first-person narration. We know something very bad is going to happen, and though some may guess the reveal, the reader is nonetheless compelled to frantically turn the pages. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic.

    • Kirkus

      Starred review from July 1, 2016
      A stunning--and profoundly disconcerting--take on the campus novel, Wayne's (The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, 2013, etc.) latest is as dark as it is addictive.Academically and personally troubled, Harvard freshman David Alan Federman has spent his adolescence on the outskirts of his life. He is, by his own observation, defined not by his presence but by his utter forgetability, his complete absence of notable traits. His own photograph is "a rectangular vacuum of charisma." At Harvard, though, he's determined to make himself known. It's at a mandatory orientation meeting that he's first captivated by the otherworldly being of Veronica Morgan Wells, paragon of wealth, of elegance, of "worldliness...taste...[and] social capital." He is suburban New Jersey; she is all Park Avenue, out of his league. Instead, David begins a (relatively) chaste relationship with Veronica's more-appropriate roommate, a nice, earnest Latin American history major, the kind of virginal Midwesterner he imagines someone like him would end up with. And still, he lives and breathes for the certainty of his eventual relationship with Veronica, intertwining himself in her life at any cost. But as David's intensity escalates, it becomes clear that Veronica has an agenda of her own. Slowly, and then all at once, the novel artfully snowballs to its arresting (if somewhat abrupt) conclusion, but despite its elements of psychological suspense, the pleasure of the book is not in its ultratimely plot but in its complicated--and unsettlingly familiar--cast. These people are nuanced even when they're disturbing, human even when they're horrendous. A spectacular stylist, Wayne is deeply empathetic toward his characters, but--brutally and brilliantly--he refuses to either defend or excuse them. A startlingly sharp study of not just collegiate culture, but of social forces at large; a novel as absorbing as it is devastating.

      COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    • Library Journal

      Starred review from June 1, 2016

      In his New Jersey high school, David Federman was not a member of the in crowd, but he prides himself on having used his superior intellect to outshine his classmates by being accepted into Harvard University. On this elite campus, he pushes to be noticed academically and socially by those who matter, and to distance himself from less desirable peers. During orientation, as others eagerly introduce themselves, David spies a striking girl arriving late, who exhibits a cool, detached demeanor; he feels an immediate connection and senses their destiny as a couple. He quickly learns her name is Veronica, sets himself up to meet her, and works to impress her. On social media he learns that she is a rich, prep-school Manhattanite; he enrolls in the same English class; and he watches where she goes and with whom. Absent a moral compass, David increasingly stalks Veronica, ultimately befriending and bedding her suitemate in an effort to get closer to Veronica and to show off his virility. Suffice it to say, things do not progress smoothly. VERDICT Wayne (The Love Song of Jonny Valentine) offers a witty and fascinating peek into today's youth culture, and delivers an enthralling portrait of male narcissism and voyeuristic obsession through the literary device of an unreliable, though brilliant, narrator. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/16.]--Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC

      Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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