"…Precise and unsentimental…Spinning an ambitious plot, unpredictable but never improbable, [duBois] moves with a magician’s control between points of view, continents, histories, and sympathies."
—The New Yorker
"[A] terrific debut."
—Publisher's Weekly Starred Review
"Hilarious and heartbreaking and a triumph of the imagination. Jennifer duBois is too young to be this talented. I wish I were her."
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story
"Thrilling, thoughtful, strange, gorgeous, political, and deeply personal, Jennifer duBois’s A Partial History of Lost Causes is a terrific debut novel. In prose both brainy and beautiful, she follows her characters as they struggle to save each other. This is a book to get lost in."
—Elizabeth McCracken, author of An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination and The Giant’s House
"An amazing achievement—a braiding of historical, political, and personal, each strand illuminating the other. Wonderful characters, glimpses of elusive wisdom, and a gripping story that accelerates to just the right ending."
—Arthur Phillips, author of Prague and The Tragedy of Arthur
"By what exquisite strategy did duBois settle on this championship permutation of literary moves? Her debut is a chess mystery with political, historical, philosophical and emotional heft, a paean to the game and the humans who play it. DuBois probes questions of identity, death, art and love with a piercing intelligence and a questing heart."
—Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment and The Effect of Living Backwards
Italy: Storia parziale delle cause perse, Mondadori
Translated by Silvia Pareschi
Germany: Das Leben Ist Gross, Aufbrau Verlag
Translated by Gesine Schroder
About the Book
In Jennifer duBois's mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two characters, each searching for meaning against long odds.
In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest. With his renowned Cold War–era tournaments behind him, Aleksandr has turned to politics, launching a doomed--and potentially lethal--dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison is on an improbable quest of her own. Certain she has inherited Huntington's disease—the same illness that ended her father's life—she struggles with a sense of purpose. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father had written to the young Aleksandr Bezetov—asking how one proceeds in a lost cause—she decides to travel to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.
Spanning two continents and thirty years, and with uncommon perception and wit, A Partial History of Lost Causes explores the possibilities of courage, the endurance of memory, and the stubbornness and splendor of human will.