A literary adventure for booklovers, a dystopian thriller about the digital age and a love story set in a world threatened by the disappearance of language.
In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted 'death of print' has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are a thing of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but have become so intuitive as to hail us taxis before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language(NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed. Doug is an intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used e-mail to communicate - or even actually spoke to one another. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It's a code word he and Anana devised to signal if one of them ever fell into danger....
Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague (who is secretly in love with her), Anana's search for her father will take her into dark basement incinerator rooms, underground passages of the Mercantile Library, meetings of a secret society designed to save the written word, the boardrooms of the evil online retailing giant Synchronic, and ultimately to the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary - the spiritual home of the written word. As Anana pieces together what is going on, and Bart falls victim to the strange 'word flu' that is spreading worldwide, the very future of language is at stake....
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Technology is generating a terrific new strand of narratives, the mystery of its codes and algorithms providing an irresistible web (forgive the pun) for stories of intrigue and layers of reality. This one is a playful, erudite mystery taking the reader down a twenty first century rabbit hole. When Anana Johnson's father Doug disappears from his office at the North American Dictionary of English Language, he leaves a single clue: the word Alice. It's a signal he and Anana had devised to signal if either of them was in danger. Joined by her book nerd colleague Bart, Anana searches for her father in a labyrinthine world of reading rooms, secret meetings and eventually the hallowed hall of the Oxford English Dictionary. A satisfyingly clever adventure for those who love words and mind games.
About the Author
Alena Graedon graduated from Brown in 2002 and received her MFA in 2007 from Columbia. She worked as the Manager of Literary Awards and Membership at PEN America Center and, when awarded four fellowships at writing residences, left to finish writing The Word Exchange. She is already working on her second novel.
Imaginative, layered, and highly original, The Word Exchange is an engagingly creepy story of technology gone wrong and a clever meditation on the enduring mysteries of language and love. Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 8th April 2014
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.2 x 2.9
Weight (kg): 0.52
Edition Number: 1