Strong Sales for A Naked Singularity

I think anyone who follows this blog with any regularity knows that A Naked Singularity, just released by the University of Chicago Press, began its trip from self-published book to local bestseller thanks to Scott Bryan Wilson’s TQC review.

Local bestseller? you say. Correct. I’ve now learned that the novel has debuted as the sixth bestselling title at Chicago independent bookstore The Book Table. And given that it takes sixth place behind soft-core pornography for suburban housewives and two prestige titles from large New York presses—i.e. titles it’ll be all-but-impossible to beat—I’m essentially calling this the number one slot. In any event, softcore porn and Yiyun Li—esteemed company indeed!—Sergio De La Pava must feel as though he’s made it.

That’s pretty impressive for a book that was an Xlibris title not too long ago. It wil be fun watching just how high this book can climb. And it’s an interesting illustration of how much a solid review and a stellar press can matter in this brave new age of ebooks and rampant experimentation with self-publishing. Having a good press behind you definitely does matter. Make no mistake, this book never would have reached the audience it’s reaching without the hard work of the very savvy people at U of C.

All that said, I suppose now is the fitting time to tell everyone that I’ve decided to make A Naked Singularity the Big Read for the summer. If you recall back to the Life A User’s Manual Read, Naked Singularity came very close to being the big read for that slot. I’ve long thought it would make a great title for this kind of a group read, and, given the book’s mounting success and this site’s involvement in it, now is the obvious time. The read will start in June. Schedule, etc to come soon.

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Before my backslide into Ford Madox Ford yesterday, I just want to note I predicted this a week or two ago. I think it’s a fantastic choice, and I look forward to participating!

So I’m definitely thinking people didn’t notice you announced the big Summer read in this post–my bet is they saw the title, scanned the first two paragraphs, and got yelled at by their bosses at work for browsing the Internet during work hours. Either that, or there will be an explosion of replies this weekend!

I’m psyched for this read, though–it looks like an awesome book. I read the first five pages when I picked it up the day it was in stores–and only the fact that I’m smack in the middle of both the new William Boyd and the Andres Neuman prevented me from going any further. Now I have to force myself to wait until June…

I’m looking forward to it, too. I was pulling for this one last year, but luckily Perec was a great find.

Read this two years ago. Incredible book… except for it’s kind-of-lazy and all-over-the-place last 100 pages.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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