cover image Rapture


David Sosnowski. Villard Books, $23 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-679-45174-7

Spinning an inventive, new riff on contemporary angel mania, Sosnowski's first novel is a fanciful zeitgeist satire, positing a world in which ordinary people begin to sprout wings, then become ostracized and victims of hate crimes because of widespread prejudice against their newfound ability to fly. A drug-dealer in a ravaged, post-industrial Detroit, Zander Wiles is the first angel to go public with his new physiology. Ditched by his partner in petty crime, Wiles becomes a novelty on the talk-show circuit, until the number of angels across the nation rises, medical understanding of the phenomenon increases and, due in part to his obnoxious antics, his fans turn against him. Following a suicide attempt he approaches fellow angel Cassie O'Connor, a therapist specializing in the needs of dysfunctional angels. Romance begins to blossom, as O'Connor and Wiles try to come to grips with the emotional weight of angelism and physical problems like molting and Penguinism, a disorienting condition that makes it impossible to fly. Sosnowski's portrait of a separate ""race"" of non-divine angels as a social phenomenon, and his strange mix of the cutesy and the apocalyptic, is original and sometimes clever. But his prose is often shop-worn and his storyline soon grows so freighted with ideas (while endeavoring at once to be a love story, a fable about racial difference and a study in the ravages of addiction) that the novel suffers a Penguinism all its own. (Sept.)