Luminarium – Best Books of 2011

Luminarium has been named one of the best novels of 2011 by NPR Books Editor Parul Sehgal.

Luminarium – Best Books of 2011

Luminarium has been named one of the best books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly.

Luminarium – Editor’s Choice

Luminarium was selected as an Editor’s Choice by BookBrowse.com.

Luminarium review

“The fantasy of ferreting out truth in the whorls of information available to us is explored in Alex Shakar’s grandly ambitious second novel, Luminarium. Weighing in at more than 400 pages, the story is centered on twin brothers Fred and George Brounian (the latter cancer-ridden and in a coma) and on restless searches for meaning in several realms: some physical and mapped, others more abstract. It’s a brilliant book dogged in its pursuit of disassembling human experience in hopes of finding the essence, or at least an astoundingly prismatic view.”

–The Los Angeles Times

Luminarium – Editor’s Choice

Luminarium was picked as an Editor’s Choice by the New York Times Book Review.

Luminarium review

“Days after finishing Alex Shakar’s Luminarium, I’m still stumbling around the house in a mixture of wonder and awe. His new novel considers how our perceptions of the world are manipulated and controlled. . . . Anyone hungry for a deeply philosophical novel that, nonetheless, maintains its humility will find here a story worth wrestling with. You know who you are: You left The Matrix and Inception dazzled but wishing for a little less computer-generated wizardry and a lot more articulation of the movies’ ideas (which also indicates that you should never become a Hollywood producer). In Luminarium those ideas — about the nature of reality and the interplay of technology and perception — are explored with great care and maturity. Rather than a trip back to your undergraduate bull sessions (cue the Moody Blues’ ‘Nights in White Satin’), Shakar has set his story against the background of personal and national grief. The result is a strikingly metaphysical novel that never dematerializes into misty cliches, a book to challenge the mystic and the doubter alike.”

–The Washington Post

Luminarium review

“Luminarium [is] the quintessential contemporary novel. While it’s become fashionable for many so-called literary authors to dabble in the genres, Shakar incorporates elements of science fiction without the Frankenstein scars. And the questions the book raises are the kind we expect from the social-realist novels with birds on their covers, imploring us with their importance. Luminarium is a beautifully written big-questions novel that never gets distracted by its own interrogation, nor seems intent on impressing itself. Here we encounter the cagey allure of the faith demanded by both new spirituality movements and technology. Shakar isn’t so much satirizing the search for faith as he is documenting how treacherous, self-serious and silly it can be. The plot and themes are interwoven seamlessly, even as the various characters fray at their edges.”

–Time Out Chicago (5 stars)

Luminarium review

[Shakar’s] first novel, “The Savage Girl,” a scouring investigation into the rampant commercialization of the 1990s, earned him an impressive advance, followed by exalted critical praise. But when the book was released a week after 9/11, it was lost in the surge of grief, fear and rage. Now, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Shakar returns with an even more powerful and profound novel, marked by an involving and canny mix of metaphysics, morality, comedy, and romance. . . .  An intricately structured, imaginative, epistemological, and wildly eventful tale of illusion and longing, “Luminarium” fizzes with ideas, social concerns, and metaphoric splendor in its exploration of doubling in the twin towers, the two halves of the brain, mind and body, fact and belief, good and evil, life and death, aloneness and communion. Encompassing, caring, provocative, and funny, Shakar’s novel astutely dramatizes moral and spiritual dilemmas catalyzed by the frenetic post-9/11 cyber age, while love, as it always has, blossoms among the ruins.

–Chicago Tribune

Luminarium review/interview

“Reading Alex Shakar’s new novel Luminarium is like running a marathon in a thunderstorm. It reads and flows with a certain exigency that won’t make you want to leave it for too long on your coffee table or on the floor space next to your bed. The novel follows Fred Brounian through various life troubles, girl troubles, technologically mind-blowing neuropsychological studies, and a personal quest to discover nothingness as a sort of self-actualization, all while struggling to keep alive the corporately-taken-over software company founded by he and his now-comatose twin brother. Luminarium is a crashing and rainy light-show that makes us vulnerable and scared, but also invigorated and, dare I say, hopeful.”

–Jonathan Aprea, BOMB

http://bombsite.com/issues/1000/articles/5955

“The Year of Wonders” (new essay by Alex)

“It was midday on a Monday in early August of the year 2000 and the bidding on my first novel had reached six figures, then paused for people to track down more cash. I was 32. I’d never made over $12,000 in a year.”  http://www.themillions.com/2011/07/the-year-of-wonders.html