Broken People

Broken People

3.55 (2,330 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
3.55 (2,330 ratings by Goodreads)
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*A Kaia Gerber Book Club Pick*


Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parade, Library Journal, Harper's Bazaar and more

"Profound and affecting."--Chloe Benjamin

"Broken People leads us through the winds of time and memory to offer a riveting portrait of transformation. I am better for having read it."--Jamie Lee Curtis

A groundbreaking, incandescent debut novel about coming to grips with the past and ourselves, for fans of Sally Rooney, Hanya Yanagihara and Garth Greenwell

"He fixes everything that's wrong with you in three days."

This is what hooks Sam when he first overhears it at a fancy dinner party in the Hollywood hills: the story of a globe-trotting shaman who claims to perform "open-soul surgery" on emotionally damaged people. For neurotic, depressed Sam, new to Los Angeles after his life in New York imploded, the possibility of total transformation is utterly tantalizing. He's desperate for something to believe in, and the shaman--who promises ancient rituals, plant medicine and encounters with the divine--seems convincing, enough for Sam to sign up for a weekend under his care.

But are the great spirits the shaman says he's summoning real at all? Or are the ghosts in Sam's memory more powerful than any magic?

At turns tender and acid, funny and wise, Broken People is a journey into the nature of truth and fiction--a story of discovering hope amid cynicism, intimacy within chaos and peace in our own skin.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 155 x 231 x 28mm | 476g
  • English
  • Original ed.
  • 1335013938
  • 9781335013934
  • 595,323

Review quote

"Don't underestimate Broken People: it may be full of delightful, razor-edged cultural commentary, but so too is it a journey of the soul. Too vulnerable to be blithely satirical and too self-aware to serve or fall for easy platitudes, Sam Lansky's debut novel sends up LA's consumerist wellness obsession while exploring the nature of health, acceptance, and human connection. The result is profound and affecting--as savvy as it is searching, as critical as it is compassionate."--Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists

"An epic journey of self-forgiveness that confronts us with the ways in which we're all broken, then, with the assured hand of a most talented writer, conjures the healing magic within. A mesmerizing read."--Steven Rowley, bestselling author of Lily and The Octopus and The Editor

"Sam Lansky's debut novel Broken People goes spelunking into the caves of one man's insecurities. He's written a piercing book about many topical things--gay sex and love; addiction; real estate; the dumb binary of American coastal identity--while also tapping into something frighteningly universal. Lansky's book is a harrowing taxonomy of want, the material and the metaphysical gnawing away in bitter chorus. We've all ached like Sam, despite the foreign and rarefied circumstances of his experience. Both grim satire and nourishing, empathetic cri de coeur, Broken People is among the strangest and most thrilling reading experiences I've had this year. What terrible, selfish lives we all lead--and how beautiful our struggle to transcend them can be."--Richard Lawson, author of All We Can Do Is Wait

"Broken People leads us through the winds of time and memory to offer a riveting portrait of transformation. I am better for having read it."--Jamie Lee Curtis

"Broken People is an intimate and raw story of pain and healing. Sam Lansky proves he has command of a poignant and strikingly vulnerable new voice in fiction. Brave, wise, and beautifully unflinching."--Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six

"A searing read about truth and identity."--Harper's Bazaar

"Cuts to the quick of Los Angeles life."--Vogue

"A haunting, honest, and humorous portrayal of how hard it is to find shelter from the ghosts of one's past."--O, The Oprah Magazine

"Riveting... With humor, verve, and cut-to-the-bone revelations, Lansky takes readers on an enthralling adventure... Lansky's mesmerizing descriptions are unflinchingly raw."--Publishers Weekly

"Vividly realized...remains the story of one man's deep personal struggles while at the same time speaking to and for all the broken people in this world....a deeply felt journey."--Library Journal

"Revelant.. bittersweet and delightfully circuitous...reminding us of the inconveniently true maxim that in order to heal, you first have to make some semblance of peace with yourself."--Vogue, Best Books for Summer

"Explores intimacy and sobriety, materialism and mysticism, and how the body absorbs heartache and trauma."--PureWow

"Lansky's writing [has] an easy humor combined with some of the rough edges of early Bret Easton Ellis...he writes with depth and candor."--USA TODAY

Poignant."--Bustle, Best Books of Summer

"Compelling and honest...Lansky explores the ways people believe they are broken and the past events that get us there."--Entertainment Weekly

"Lansky's piercing novel is a send-up of America's wellness obsession, but it goes beyond satire to probe compassionately the experience of a profoundly anxious soul."--NOW Toronto

"A smart, observant story that asks big questions about how we can heal ourselves and what the cost of inner peace can be."--Town & Country

"A winding, funny journey...Lansky looks at what it means for a gay man to struggle with body image, loneliness, and addiction."--NPR, Morning Edition

"With wit and insight, a tormented writer seeks to liberate himself from his demons through an ayahuasca ceremony."--Shelf Awareness

"A talented writer...unsparingly honest, but also funny and mordant, [Lansky is] willing to use his life and what he does to his body to comment on issues larger than himself...a piercing observer of gay men and the often fraught relationships we have with our own bodies."--New York Times Book Review
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Rating details

2,330 ratings
3.55 out of 5 stars
5 20% (463)
4 33% (779)
3 31% (725)
2 13% (293)
1 3% (70)
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