America Fantastica: A Novel (Hardcover)
“Tim O'Brien is the one American author whose works I look forward to the most. His new novel’s ironic depiction of a post-Iraq war, mid-COVID, and mid-Trump world is piercing and razor-sharp.” —HARUKI MURAKAMI
An American Master returns: the author of The Things They Carried delivers his first new novel in two decades, a brilliant and rollicking odyssey, in which a bank robbery sparks “a satirical romp through a country plagued by deceit” (Kirkus, starred review)
Named one of Fall 2023's most anticipated books: New York Times, Associated Press, Kirkus, Goodreads, LitHub, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and more
At 11:34 a.m. one Saturday in August 2019, Boyd Halverson strode into Community National Bank in Northern California.
“How much is on hand, would you say?” he asked the teller. “I’ll want it all.”
“You’re robbing me?”
He revealed a Temptation .38 Special.
The teller, a diminutive redhead named Angie Bing, collected eighty-one thousand dollars.
Boyd stuffed the cash into a paper grocery bag.
“I’m sorry about this,” he said, “but I’ll have to ask you to take a ride with me.”
So begins the adventure of Boyd Halverson—star journalist turned notorious online disinformation troll turned JCPenney manager—and his irrepressible hostage, Angie Bing. Haunted by his past and weary of his present, Boyd has one goal before the authorities catch up with him: settle a score with the man who destroyed his life. By Monday the pair reach Mexico; by winter, they are in a lakefront mansion in Minnesota. On their trail are hitmen, jealous lovers, ex-cons, an heiress, a billionaire shipping tycoon, a three-tour veteran of Iraq, and the ghosts of Boyd’s past. Everyone, it seems, except the police.
In the tradition of Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain, America Fantastica delivers a biting, witty, and entertaining story about the causes and costs of outlandish fantasy, while also marking the triumphant return of an essential voice in American letters. And at the heart of the novel, amid a teeming cast of characters, readers will delight in the tug-of-war between two memorable and iconic human beings—the exuberant savior-of-souls Angie Bing and the penitent but compulsive liar Boyd Halverson. Just as Tim O’Brien’s modern classic, The Things They Carried, so brilliantly reflected the unromantic truth of war, America Fantastica puts a mirror to a nation and a time that has become dangerously unmoored from truth and greedy for delusion.
TIM O’BRIEN received the 1979 National Book Award for Going After Cacciato. Among his other books are The Things They Carried, Pulitzer Finalist and a New York Times Book of the Century, and In the Lake of the Woods, winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize. He was awarded the Pritzker Literature Award for lifetime achievement in military writing in 2013.
"Tin O'Brien is one American author whose works I look forward to the most. His new novel’s ironic depiction of a post-Iraq War, mid-COVID, and mid-Trump world is piercing and razor-sharp." — Haruki Murakami
“Tim O’Brien is one of our greatest storytellers, and his latest—America Fantastica—is a beauty. Steeped in acute wisdom and hilarious wisecracks, this satirical romp through the ‘mythomania’ and ‘lying contagion’ that plagues our society is also a study in one man’s broken heart and the truths that have shaped it.”
— Jill McCorkle
“A satirical romp through a country plagued by deceit. . . . There are echoes of his famous Vietnam War novel, Going After Cacciato (1977), a book built on a darkly absurd pursuit amid individual and national uncertainty. . . . It’s one of those books where you can sense the author enjoying himself and it’s fun to be along for the ride. A broadly engaging and entertaining work.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Hunter S. Thompson meets Sacha Baron Cohen in this amusing and alarming road trip to the center of America’s mendacious heart. . . . O’Brien keeps everything afloat on a cloud of pure gonzo bliss. If this is indeed the author’s valedictory novel, he’s bowing out with a star-spangled bang. — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“O’Brien’s farcical satire blends fierce social commentary and a searing indictment of our post-fact culture into a nonstop joyride.” — Booklist
“Takes both the dark and the comic to epic proportions with simultaneous absurdism and poignancy. . . . Like The Things They Carried, America Fantastica revels in detail and highly specific lists, so that the world it portrays feels robust and brimming. . . . His novel speaks of a nation that craves delusion and deception; O'Brien's profile of the 2019 United States is savage, blending satire and realism. . . . As in the earlier works for which he has long been recognized, O'Brien here demonstrates an electric combination of deadpan humor, vicious wit, and a masterful eye for detail in capturing a peculiarly American form of torment.” — Shelf Awareness
"A desperate bank robbery morphs into a cross-country chase featuring hit men, a billionaire tycoon, jealous lovers, and several ex-cons. O’Brien hands America a mirror once more." — Goodreads, Most Anticipated Books of the Fall
“[A] timely odyssey. . . . Between an array of eclectic characters and meditations on absolutism, O'Brien paints a new, unflinching portrait of Americana that reads like a road map to our modern age.” — Entertainment Weekly, “Must List”