Author: Rachel Kushner
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No book has lit up the literary fiction scene this year quite like Rachel Kushner's second novel, The Flamethrowers. The unnamed narrator of this brisk, brainy novel moves from the American West to New York in the 1970s, pursuing her love of conceptual art and experimental filmmaking. After falling in with a group of artists, she becomes romantically involved with Sandro Valera, son of a wealthy Italian business magnate T.P. Valera.
Kushner alternates between the woman's story and the tale of T.P.'s youth, when he fought in the first World War and participated in the Futurist art movement. At the intersection of art and politics, speed and romance, revolution and self-realization, The Flamethrowers will transport you to a grim New York awaiting a blackout and an Italy on the brink of massive upheaval. —Ross Scarano