10:04: A Novel (Paperback)

Staff Pick Logo
10:04: A Novel Cover Image
Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews

The first page of Ben Lerner’s 10:04 begins, “In what would become the opening scene...” It leads you to ask: is this the opening scene? Or is the opening scene coming later, after the explanation of the opening scene? Don’t be alarmed. This is merely Ben Lerner’s second novel 10:04, a fantastic, semi-autobiographical story based in the here-and-now, yet strangely other. 10:04 is knowingly meta-fictional, astute at playing with the different levels of reality, while still remaining a thoughtful and moving story.

10:04’s main thread takes place in New York City, following the narrator as he wrestles with writing his next novel after securing a six-figure advance for his second. He has been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening heart condition, and his best friend has just asked him to help her conceive a child. This is the skeleton of the plot--but there is so much more: discussions about art, tropical storms heading toward Manhattan, and a passage at a writer’s colony in Marfa, Texas, where the narrator (contemplating Walt Whitman nursing the wounded of the Civil War) consoles a young man who accidentally overdosed on ketamine. Lerner blends all of these disparate strands together seamlessly.

10:04 is a book of large ideas, of the unspeakable fears we all carry, of the notion that this world is fast becoming something too tragic to comprehend. Toward the end of the novel, the narrator writes: “I didn’t say that our society could not, in its present form, go on, or that I believed the storms were in part man-made, or that poison was coming at us from a million points, although all of that was to my mind plainly true. And that my mood was regulated by drugs. And that sometimes the language was a jumble of marks.”

In Ben Lerner’s hands this jumble of words makes for a compelling and startling novel. I’m already anticipating his third.

— From 10:04 (Ben Lerner)


Named One of the Best Books of the Year By:
The New Yorker The New York Times Book Review The Wall Street Journal The Village Voice The Boston Globe NPR Vanity Fair The Guardian (London) The L Magazine The Times Literary Supplement (London) The Globe and Mail (Toronto) The Huffington Post Gawker Flavorwire San Francisco Chronicle The Kansas City Star The Jewish Daily Forward Tin House

Winner of The Paris Review's 2012 Terry Southern Prize

A Finalist for the 2014 Folio Prize and the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award

In the last year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unlikely literary success, has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal medical condition, and has been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child. In a New York of increasingly frequent superstorms and social unrest, he must reckon with his own mortality and the prospect of fatherhood in a city that might soon be underwater.

In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called "hilarious ... cracklingly intelligent ... and original in every sentence," Lerner captures what it's like to be alive now, during the twilight of an empire, when the difficulty of imagining a future is changing our relationship to both the present and the past.

About the Author

Ben Lerner was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979. He has been a Fulbright Fellow, a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry, a Howard Foundation Fellow, and a Guggenheim Fellow. His first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station, won the 2012 Believer Book Award, and excerpts from 10:04 have been awarded The Paris Review's Terry Southern Prize. He has published three poetry collections: The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path. Lerner is a professor of English at Brooklyn College.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781250081339
ISBN-10: 1250081335
Publisher: Picador USA
Publication Date: October 13th, 2015
Pages: 256
Language: English