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The Age of Miracles
Cover of The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles
A Novel
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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People ∙ O: The Oprah Magazine ∙ Financial Times ∙ Kansas City Star ∙ BookPage ∙ Kirkus Reviews ∙ Publishers Weekly...
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY People ∙ O: The Oprah Magazine ∙ Financial Times ∙ Kansas City Star ∙ BookPage ∙ Kirkus Reviews ∙ Publishers Weekly...
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  • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    People ∙ O: The Oprah Magazine ∙ Financial Times ∙ Kansas City Star ∙ BookPage ∙ Kirkus Reviews ∙ Publishers Weekly ∙ Booklist
    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

     
    “A stunner.”—Justin Cronin
     
    “It’s never the disasters you see coming that finally come to pass—it’s the ones you don’t expect at all,” says Julia, in this spellbinding novel of catastrophe and survival by a superb new writer. Luminous, suspenseful, unforgettable, The Age of Miracles tells the haunting and beautiful story of Julia and her family as they struggle to live in a time of extraordinary change.
     
    On an ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia awakes to discover that something has happened to the rotation of the earth. The days and nights are growing longer and longer; gravity is affected; the birds, the tides, human behavior, and cosmic rhythms are thrown into disarray. In a world that seems filled with danger and loss, Julia also must face surprising developments in herself, and in her personal world—divisions widening between her parents, strange behavior by her friends, the pain and vulnerability of first love, a growing sense of isolation, and a surprising, rebellious new strength. With crystalline prose and the indelible magic of a born storyteller, Karen Thompson Walker gives us a breathtaking portrait of people finding ways to go on in an ever-evolving world.
     
    “Gripping drama . . . flawlessly written; it could be the most assured debut by an American writer since Jennifer Egan’s Emerald City.”—The Denver Post
     
    “Pure magnificence.”—Nathan Englander
     
    “Provides solace with its wisdom, compassion, and elegance.”—Curtis Sittenfeld
     
    “Riveting, heartbreaking, profoundly moving.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
     
    Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.

Excerpts-

  • From the book 1.

    We didn't notice right away. We couldn't feel it.

    We did not sense, at first, the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin.

    We were distracted, back then, by weather and war. We had no interest in the turning of the earth. Bombs continued to explode on the streets of distant countries. Hurricanes came and went. Summer ended. A new school year began. The clocks ticked as usual. Seconds beaded into minutes. Minutes grew into hours. And there was nothing to suggest that those hours too weren't still pooling into days, each the same, fixed length known to every human being.

    But there were those who would later claim to have recognized the disaster before the rest of us did. These were the night workers, the graveyard shifters, the stockers of shelves, and the loaders of ships, the drivers of big-rig trucks, or else they were the bearers of different burdens: the sleepless and the troubled and the sick. These people were accustomed to waiting out the night. Through bloodshot eyes, a few did detect a certain persistence of darkness on the mornings leading up to the news, but each mistook it for the private misperception of a lonely, rattled mind.

    On the sixth of October, the experts went public. This, of course, is the day we all remember. There'd been a change, they said, a slowing, and that's what we called it from then on: the slowing.

    "We have no way of knowing if this trend will continue," said a shy bearded scientist at a hastily arranged press conference, now infamous. He cleared his throat and swallowed. Cameras flashed in his eyes. Then came the moment, replayed so often afterward that the particular cadences of that scientist's speech—the dips and the pauses and that slight Midwestern slant—would be forever married to the news itself. He went on: "But we suspect that it will continue."

    Our days had grown by fifty-six minutes in the night.

    At the beginning, people stood on street corners and shouted about the end of the world. Counselors came to talk to us at school. I remember watching Mr. Valencia next door fill up his garage with stacks of canned food and bottled water, as if preparing, it now seems to me, for a disaster much more minor.

    The grocery stores were soon empty, the shelves sucked clean like chicken bones.

    The freeways clogged immediately. People heard the news and they wanted to move. Families piled into minivans and crossed state lines. They scurried in every direction like small animals caught suddenly under a light.

    But, of course, there was nowhere on earth to go.

    2.


    The news broke on a Saturday.

    In our house, at least, the change had gone unnoticed. We were still asleep when the sun came up that morning, and so we sensed nothing unusual in the timing of its rise. Those last few hours before we learned of the slowing remain preserved in my memory—even all these years later—as if trapped behind glass.

    My friend Hanna had slept over the night before, and we'd camped out in sleeping bags on the living room floor, where we'd slept side by side on a hundred other nights. We woke to the purring of lawn mower motors and the barking of dogs, to the soft squeak of a trampoline as the twins jumped next door. In an hour we'd both be dressed in blue soccer uniforms—hair pulled back, sunscreen applied, cleats clicking on tile.

    "I had the weirdest dream last night," said Hanna. She lay on her stomach, her head propped up on one elbow, her long blonde hair hanging tangled behind her ears. She had a certain skinny beauty that I wished I had too....

About the Author-

  • Karen Thompson Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program and a recipient of the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb magazine fiction prize. A former editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work. Born and raised in San Diego, she now lives in Brooklyn with her husband. The Age of Miracles is her first book.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from January 30, 2012
    In this gripping debut, 11-year-old
    Julia wakes one day to the news that the earth’s rotation has started slowing. The immediate effects—no one at soccer practice; relentless broadcasts of the same bewildered scientists—soon feel banal compared to what unfolds. “The slowing” is growing slower still, and soon both day and night are more than twice as long as they once were. When governments decide to stick to the 24-hour schedule (ignoring circadian rhythms), a subversive movement erupts, “real-timers” who disregard the clock and appear to be weathering the slowing better than clock-timers—at first. Thompson’s Julia is the perfect narrator. On the brink of adolescence, she’s as concerned with buying her first bra as with the birds falling out of the sky. She wants to be popular as badly as she wants her world to remain familiar. While the apocalypse looms large—has in fact already arrived—the narrative remains fiercely grounded in the surreal and horrifying day-to-day and the personal decisions that persist even though no one knows what to do. A triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum, the story also feels eerily plausible, as if the problems we’ve been worrying about all along pale in comparison to what might actually bring our end. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME Entertainment.

  • The Columbus Dispatch "Touching, observant and poetic."
  • Kansas City Star "Simply told, skillfully crafted and filled with metaphorical unities, this resonant first novel [rings] with difficult truths both large and small."
  • Newsday "Both utterly realistic and fantastically dystopian...The big miracles, Walker seems to be saying, may doom the world at large, but the little ones keep life worth living."--Minnesota Herald Tribune

    "[An] elegiac, moving first novel."
  • Austin Chronicle "Arresting... This book cuts bone-deep."
  • Huntington News "Evocative and poetic...I loved this book from the first page."
  • Time Out New York "Walker's tone can be properly [Harper] Lee-esque; both Julia and Scout grapple with the standard childhood difficulties as their societies crumble around them. But life prevails, and the stunning Miracles subtly conveys that adapting."
  • Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep "What a remarkable and beautifully wrought novel. In its depiction of a world at once utterly like and unlike our own, The Age of Miracles is so convincingly unsettling that it just might make you stockpile emergency supplies of batteries and bottled water. It also--thank goodness--provides great solace with its wisdom, its compassion, and the elegance of its storytelling."
  • Justin Cronin, author of The Passage "'Miracles' indeed. Karen Thompson Walker's debut novel is a stunner from the first page--an end-of-the-world, coming-of-age tale of quiet majesty. I loved this novel and can't wait to see what this remarkable writer will do next."
  • Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! "Is the end near? In Karen Thompson Walker's beautiful and frightening debut, sunsets are becoming rarities, "real-timers" live in daylight colonies while mainstream America continues to operate on the moribund system of "Clock Time," and environmentalists rail against global dependence on crops that guzzle light. Against this apocalyptic backdrop, Walker sets the coming-of-age story of brave, bewildered Julia, who wonders at the "malleable rhythms" of the increasingly erratic adults around her. Like master fabulists Steven Millhauser and Kevin Brockmeier, Karen Thompson Walker takes a fantastic premise and makes it feel thrillingly real. In precise, poetic language, she floods the California suburbs with shadows and a doomsday glow, and in this altered light shows us amazing things about how one family responds to a stunningly imagined global crisis."
  • Amy Bloom, author of Away "This is what imagination is. In The Age of Miracles, the earth's rotation slows, gravity alters, days are stretched out to fifty hours of sunlight. In the midst of this, a young girl falls in loves, sees things she shouldn't and suffers heartbreak of the most ordinary kind. Karen Thompson Walker has managed to combine fiction of the dystopian future with an incisive and powerful portrait of our personal present."
  • Nathan Englander, author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges "The Age of Miracles is pure magnificence. Deeply moving and beautifully executed, Karen Thompson Walker has written the perfect novel for the global-warming age."
  • Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl "Reading The Age of Miracles is like gazing into a sky of constellations and being mesmerized by the the strange yet familiar sensation of infinity. Beautifully written, the novel lets the readers see the world within us and the world without with an unforgettable freshness."
  • Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake "The Age of Miracles spins its glowing magic through incredibly lucid and honest prose, giving equal care and dignity to the small spheres and the large. It is at once a love letter to the world as we know it and an elegy."
  • Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion "Gripping from first page to last, The Age of Miracles is itself a small, perfectly formed miracle: Written with the cadence and pitch of poetry, this gem of a novel is a wrenching and all-too-believable parable for our times, and one of the most original coming-of-age stories I have ever read. Karen Thompson Walker is the real deal."
  • Jim Shepard, author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway (National Book Award finalist)

    "The Age of Miracles is harrowing and beautiful on the ways in which those catastrophes already hidden about us in plain sight, once ratcheted up just a bit, provide us with a glimpse of the end of our species' run on earth: the uncanny distress of hundreds of beache

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    Random House Publishing Group
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