cover image Preparation for the Next Life

Preparation for the Next Life

Atticus Lish. Tyrant (Consortium, dist.), $15 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-0-9885183-3-9

Lish (Life Is with People) turns to fiction with this stunning debut novel that plumbs the underbelly of New York City, tracing the relationship of Zou Lei, a Chinese immigrant working in a tiny noodle restaurant, and Skinner, an AWOL Iraqi war veteran and wanderer. Enduring stints in prison and homelessness, Zou Lei and Skinner experience life on society’s fringes. Lish destroys the American dream with the struggles his characters face—for Zou Lei, it’s enough to survive: “forget living like an American. It was enough to be free on the streets.” New York City is anything but idyllic; through the perspective of the two protagonists, it is frightening and cruel and alien. Zou Lei and Skinner have their budding relationship tested by insurmountable odds, and their own foibles and peculiarities are rendered with vivid detail. Lish’s prose is at once raw and disciplined, and every word feels necessary. (Nov.)