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The Word Exchange - Alena Graedon

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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 * The idea of technology taking over our lives to such an extent that we can no longer function without it was an interesting premise, and one that most of us will be able to relate to. -- Louise Jones * THE BOOKBAG * In Graedon's dystopian future, face-to-face interfacing is finished and even email is a fading memory; when the man working on the last-ever dictionary goes missing, his daughter sets out to find him and discovers murky anti-literate corporate forces and outposts of word-loving outlaws. * ESQUIRE MAGAZINE * Can you imagine a future without books, newspapers or magazines? Alena Graedon has done just that - her debut novel conjures up a scarily plausible dystopian future, where print is dead and intuitive handheld devices are the only method of communication. * THE LADY * Wow! This highly addictive future noir is also terrifyingly prescient. Set in a parallel New York filled with language viruses, pneumatic tubes, and heartbreak, Alena Graedon's book is luminous and haunting at every turn. I will never look at words in quite the same way-and neither will you. -- Reif Larsen, author of THE SELECTED WORKS OF T.S. SPIVET 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 Alena Graedon's spectacular debut is a story for our age of 'accelerated obsolescence.' A genuinely scary and funny mystery about linguistic slippage and disturbance, it's also a moving meditation on our sometimes comic, sometimes desperate struggles to speak, and to listen, and to mean something to one another.To borrow Graedon's own invention, THE WORD EXCHANGE is 'synchronic'--a gorgeous genre mashup that offers readers the pleasures of noir, science fiction, romance and philosophy. It's an unforgettable joyride across the thin ice of language -- Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove A wildly ambitious, darkly intellectual and inventive thriller about the intersection of language, technology and meaning * KIRKUS, starred review * [A] remarkable first novel, combining a vividly imagined future with the fondly remembered past . . . exquisite * BOOKLIST, starred review * Graedon's spectacular, ambitious debut explores a near-future America that's shifted almost exclusively to smart technologies, where print is only a nostalgia . . . it's as full of humanity as it is of mystery and intellectual prowess * PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, starred review * Clever, breathless and sportively Hegelian . . . THE WORD EXCHANGE combines the jaunty energy of youngish adult fiction (boyfriend trouble, parent conflicts, peer pressure and post-collegiate jitters) with the spine-tingling chill of the science-fiction conspiracy genre -- Liesel Schillinger * NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW *

ISBN: 9780297869764
ISBN-10: 0297869760
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 8th April 2014
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.3 x 15.5  x 2.9
Weight (kg): 0.5
Edition Number: 1