The Instructions

The Instructions

4.07 (2,464 ratings by Goodreads)
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This is the story of Gurion Maccabee, age ten: a lover, a fighter, a scholar, and a truly spectacular talker.

Gurion has been expelled from three Jewish day-schools for acts of violence and messianic tendencies. He ends up in the Cage, a special lockdown program for the most hopeless cases at Aptakisic Junior High. But in just four days, from the moment he meets the beautiful Eliza June Watermark to the terrifying Events of November 17, Gurion's search for righteousness sparks a violent, unstoppable rebellion.

Driven equally by moral fervour and teenage exuberance, The Instructions is hilarious, troubling, empathetic, monumental, breakneck, romantic and unforgettable.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 1056 pages
  • 161 x 240 x 70mm | 1,286g
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 0857861360
  • 9780857861368
  • 1,284,442

Review quote

Manic, articulate, full of passions, courageous in its form and very funny. -- George Saunders Adam Levin's book is the real thing, I think. It appeals to the young readers who like formal invention and ambition... But there's also real substance there. -- Dave Eggers A hysterical, heartfelt journey of self-discovery . . . A book that moves beyond completely transparent influences to reach its own distinct, new, great height. * * Village Voice * * Evocative of David Foster Wallace . . . full of death-defying sentences, manic wit, exciting provocations and simple human warmth. * * Rolling Stone * * This is a life-consuming novel, one that demands to be read feverishly. When it is over, other fiction feels insufficient, the newspaper seems irrelevant . . . If the ultimate message of modernism was unremitting pessimism . . . The Instructions has given the literary genre its long deferred conclusion: Indeed, a day-or four-can serve as a reminder that death looms large for anything living, but there is lot of life to be lived in the interim. * * New York Observer * * Young Adam Levin wowed me with this whip-smart, aching, hilarious novel, starring his own kind of post-modern wise child (ala Seymour Glass) and revolutionary. The ghost of DF Wallace would relish comparisons to this brave new talent. This year's best debut by a country mile. -- Mary Karr The Instructions is incredible. It is sweet and vast and the words are everywhere and everywhere is right. -- Ben Brooks Levin's mammoth, riotous, Talmudic, impossibly excessive yet brilliant, mesmerizing, warmhearted, and hilarious work of chutzpah takes place over four feverish days but encompasses the whole of Israel's battle for existence and the Jewish quest for home and peace. -- Donna Seaman * * Booklist * * Dark, funny, and deeply provocative . . . Levin has an uncanny facility for blending sympathy and satire, for making us care about his charming but dubious hero and for infusing life into this alternate, slightly fantastical reality that's very much like our own . . . The ability to engender true sympathy in a reader for the schemes of a narcissist is a very particular and rare sort of talent. * * Salon * * Levin has filled his pages with modern Poloniuses, masters of digression, and with moments rich in fact and feeling - each of which he spends paragraphs unpacking. All the while, the book claims the reader's time, hours and hours of it. Yet miraculously few of its 1,030 pages, which cover four days in Gurion's life, seem extraneous . . . [It's] a chain of interlocking symbols, a charm bracelet of a book . . . It's as though, merely by reading, we are committing an act of faith. In the end, his contradictions leave us - as religion often does - exalted and alienated both. * * San Francisco Chronicle * * After The Instructions challenges, charms and betrays you, it might just seduce your soul . . . disturbing and romantic and ultimately, heartbreaking, its questions are not easily parsed, even by Gurion's analytic mind. They are the nagging doubts of our own goodness and faith . . . This is a wunderkind's master class . . . An incredible creation of fiction. * * St Louis Post-Dispatch * * The Instructions is in fact a vital work of-no getting around it-American Jewish literature because it imagines that the genre is indeed through and asks what can be written in its place. * * Tablet magazine * * What if Infinite Jest and Phillip Roth had a love child, a very angry love child? . . . Large enough to squash a Pekingese, The Instructions is staggeringly well-thought-out, bejeweled with references, hints and clues and is unquestionably daunting in both breadth and depth . . . we were exhilarated (what other book, after 825 flicks of the wrist, suddenly becomes a page turner?) and quietly proud of toting around such dense and densely rewarding fiction. * * Rumpus Book Club * * [A] mammoth, marvelous novel ... hysterically funny and giddyingly imagined ... [Levin's] work closely resembles that of Michael Chabon and Jonathan Lethem. Like them, Levin is both fascinated by violence and fascinating about it. * * Scotsman on Sunday * * Dazzling * * Felixstowe Evening Standard * * This novel crawls with sticky idioms and madcap coinages * * Telegraph * * consistently witty, panoptic... compulsive reading * * We Love This Book * * entirely believable * * We Love This Book * * Sprawling, utterly followable and devastatingly intense - worth a month of anyone's life * * We Love This Book * * galumphing breeze block of a debut novel... nearly as audacious as his pre-teen messianic hero * * Time Out * * Levin is consistently funny and on the mark * * Time Out * * picking up where David Foster Wallace left off; it's also entirely its own floriously eccentric thing. Read it, before it goes cult * * Time Out * * It is hilarious, troubling and breakneck. Oh, and it is very Jewish * * Jewish Chronicle * * cool literary connections * * Metro * *
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About Adam Levin

Adam Levin's stories have appeared in Tin House, McSweeney's, and Esquire. Winner of the 2003 Tin House/Summer Literary Seminars Fiction Contest and the 2004 Joyce Carol Oates Fiction Prize, Levin holds an MA in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago and an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. His collection of short stories, Hot Pink, will be published by McSweeney's in 2011. He lives in Chicago, where he teaches writing at Columbia College and The School of the Art Institute. He also has a parrot.
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Rating details

2,464 ratings
4.07 out of 5 stars
5 45% (1,099)
4 31% (770)
3 14% (357)
2 6% (145)
1 4% (93)
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