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The New York Times Magazine culture editor Adam Sternbergh’s debut Shovel Ready

Sternbergh's addictive genre-blend of a thriller has all the immersive sci-fi of Ernest Cline; the hard-boiled rhythms of Don Winslow; the fearless bravado of Chuck Palahniuk; and the classic noir of James M. Cain

The New York Times Magazine culture editor Adam Sternbergh’s debut Shovel Ready

Shovel Ready: A Novel

Adam Sternbergh
  • Imprint: Crown Publishers
  • On sale: January 14, 2014
  • Price: $24.00
  • Pages: 256
  • ISBN: 9780385348997
Contact: Sarah Breivogel

Select Praise for SHOVEL READY:

“Bogart-cool. . . . Razor-sharp. . . . The page-turning mood of Shovel Ready is addictive, by turns death-metal brutal and darkly hilarious” —Entertainment Weekly

“The best of two dark, amoral, existentially empty worlds!” —Time
“Darkly funny.” —New York
“The best kind of hard boiled noir.” —GQ
“Sternbergh’s pithy prose drives the thriller’s tempo.”—Time Out New York
“[Shovel Ready] speeds along in staccato, hard-boiled sentences.”—Los Angeles Times

“Sternbergh comes busting out of the gate with this gritty noir.” —Flavorwire

“Stunning narrative sleight-of-hand. . . . Characters [with] humor and a resilient humanity. . . .  Mixing dystopian science fiction and urban noir with a Palahniuk swagger, this could well be the first novel everybody is talking about over the next few months.”Booklist (starred review)
“Spademan is an unlikely yet tragic hero, and it takes a talented author to make a reader root for such a damaged and ruthless man. . . . This is a gripping genre mash-up and a stunning debut.” Library Journal (starred review)

“[An] edgy, noir-soaked thriller.” Bookpage

“Hardboiled as f*** with writing as fierce and sharp as a paper-cut.” —Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls
“With prose chiseled to hardboiled perfection and a tale that throbs with the keen ache of noir, Adam Sternbergh’s Shovel Ready reads like William Gibson as directed with inky brilliance by Christopher Nolan. Debut novels as sleek, resonant and accomplished as this are a rare gift.” —Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me
Shovel Ready tosses you off a precipice and you don’t know where you’re going to land. Dark and often funny, with sparse, sharp language. Think Charlie Huston’s dystopian New York meets Richard Stark’s anti-hero—this is good, bitter fun.” —Toby Barlow, author of Sharp Teeth and Babayaga

“Compulsive! Savage future noir that crackles with deadpan wit.” —Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker

Shovel Ready is an elegant, lean and clever noir. It’s the best sci-fi thriller I’ve read since Snow Crash.” —Roger Hobbs, author of Ghostman
“A terrific debut. It has the grimy neon feel of Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan combined with a touch of Philip K. Dick’s gonzo cyberpunk.” —Austin Grossman, author of You and Soon I Will Be Invincible14, 2014), Adam Sternbergh’s propulsive, gripping, and wholly original debut, we meet Spademan, a one-of-a-kind antihero in this futuristic dystopian novel. Sternbergh, who  previously worked for New York as editor-at-large and is the current culture editor of The New York Times Magazine, was inspired to write his debut after coming across a statistic listing New York City as the number one domestic tourist destination in the United States, even higher than Disney World. The new Times Square, the cleaned-up Central Park, the High Line, and even Brooklyn have all helped the Big Apple surpass the Happiest Place on Earth . . . but it wasn’t always like that. Just thirty years ago New York was seen as crime-ridden, derelict, a wasteland—not somewhere you’d take the children for a vacation. Sternbergh wondered what it would take to get New York City back to its gritty former self.

Set in the near future, SHOVEL READY imagines just such a scenario. A lone gym bag explodes on a subway—followed by a van full of stolen radioactive waste in Times Square. Then comes a well-timed wave of car bombs in the weeks that follow. A mass exodus ensues: the bankers go to London, Seoul, Beijing; the artists to Barcelona or Mumbai; the media to Chicago and Los Angeles. Tourism comes to a halt, and within a month Times Square is dead, rotting beyond resuscitation. Those who stayed behind are either wealthy enough to spend months on end in “the limnosphere,” a sophisticated virtual reality where any and all fantasies can be made real, or they are making their way in the rough-hewn new landscape. That’s where we meet Spademan. A former garbageman and devoted husband, Spademan’s now alone, working as a hit man. He finds that killing people for money is not that different from collecting trash, and the pay is better. When his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, things get trickier than he expected. His conscience gets the better of him, and he suddenly has more plates spinning than he’d like: a shadowy client, a sparkplug of a mark, and a circle of friends and confidantes that give him grief. But he’ll need all of them if he wants to get the job done . . . and stay alive. 

SHOVEL READY has already attracted the attention of Warner Bros., which is developing the novel for film with Denzel Washington in early talks to play Spademan, and has sold in six territories around the world, with more deals pending. Fans of films such as Looper, Inception, and Children of Men, and readers of highbrow commercial novels that blend mystery, sci-fi, noir, and dystopia such as Colson Whitehead’s Zone One, Don Winslow’s Savages, and Hugh Howey’s Wool, will all be drawn to Sternbergh’s addictive genre-blend of a thriller. 

Drawing inspiration from classic writers like Philip K. Dick and Dashiell Hammett as well as modern masters like James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard, Sternbergh has created a gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant first novel with a character all his own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adam Sternbergh is the culture editor of The New York Times Magazine. Formerly an editor-at-large for New York, his writing has been featured in several other publications including GQ and The Times of London, and on the radio program This American Life. He lives in Brooklyn and is at work on a second Spademan novel, Near Enemy, set to be published in 2015.


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