The Word Exchange

The Word Exchange

3.34 (3,309 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Spine-tingling' New York Times
'A fast-paced, thrill-a-minute debut novel' New Yorker
'Graedon knows how to ratchet up mystery' Esquire


Imagine a world without words.
A world in which books, libraries and newspapers are things of the past.
A world where personal devices provide all you could want or need.

Anana Johnson and her father, Doug, are hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed of the English Dictionary. But one evening, Doug disappears and Anana unearths a single written clue: ALICE.

In the battle to save her father, Anana discovers secret societies, dark incinerator rooms and underground passages.

Above all, she finds a world that faces ruin from the dark side of technology.

Praise for The Word Exchange

'A nervy, nerdy dystopian thriller' New York Times Book Review

'A propulsive, twisty future-noir' Daily Beast

'Spectacular' Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove

'Dazzling' Slate

'Wildly ambitious, darkly intellectual and inventive' Kirkus Reviews, starred review
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 166 x 205 x 28mm | 284g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1780225628
  • 9781780225623
  • 47,672

Review quote

The idea of technology taking over our lives to such an extent that we can no longer function without it was an interesting premise, and one that most of us will be able to relate to. -- Louise Jones * THE BOOKBAG * In Graedon's dystopian future, face-to-face interfacing is finished and even email is a fading memory; when the man working on the last-ever dictionary goes missing, his daughter sets out to find him and discovers murky anti-literate corporate forces and outposts of word-loving outlaws. * ESQUIRE MAGAZINE * Can you imagine a future without books, newspapers or magazines? Alena Graedon has done just that - her debut novel conjures up a scarily plausible dystopian future, where print is dead and intuitive handheld devices are the only method of communication. * THE LADY * Wow! This highly addictive future noir is also terrifyingly prescient. Set in a parallel New York filled with language viruses, pneumatic tubes, and heartbreak, Alena Graedon's book is luminous and haunting at every turn. I will never look at words in quite the same way-and neither will you. -- Reif Larsen, author of THE SELECTED WORKS OF T.S. SPIVET Imaginative, layered, and highly original, THE WORD EXCHANGE is an engagingly creepy story of technology gone wrong and a clever meditation on the enduring mysteries of language and love -- Karen Thompson Walker, author of THE AGE OF MIRACLES Alena Graedon's spectacular debut is a story for our age of 'accelerated obsolescence.' A genuinely scary and funny mystery about linguistic slippage and disturbance, it's also a moving meditation on our sometimes comic, sometimes desperate struggles to speak, and to listen, and to mean something to one another.To borrow Graedon's own invention, THE WORD EXCHANGE is 'synchronic'--a gorgeous genre mashup that offers readers the pleasures of noir, science fiction, romance and philosophy. It's an unforgettable joyride across the thin ice of language -- Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove A wildly ambitious, darkly intellectual and inventive thriller about the intersection of language, technology and meaning * KIRKUS, starred review * [A] remarkable first novel, combining a vividly imagined future with the fondly remembered past . . . exquisite * BOOKLIST, starred review * Graedon's spectacular, ambitious debut explores a near-future America that's shifted almost exclusively to smart technologies, where print is only a nostalgia . . . it's as full of humanity as it is of mystery and intellectual prowess * PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, starred review * Clever, breathless and sportively Hegelian . . . THE WORD EXCHANGE combines the jaunty energy of youngish adult fiction (boyfriend trouble, parent conflicts, peer pressure and post-collegiate jitters) with the spine-tingling chill of the science-fiction conspiracy genre -- Liesel Schillinger * NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW *
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About Alena Graedon

Alena Graedon graduated from Brown in 2002 and received her MFA in 2007 from Columbia. She worked as the Manager of Literary Awards and Membership at the PEN America Center before leaving to finish THE WORD EXCHANGE, her first novel, with the help of fellowships at several artist colonies. Her writing has been translated into nine languages. She lives in Brooklyn.
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Rating details

3,309 ratings
3.34 out of 5 stars
5 14% (475)
4 32% (1,067)
3 32% (1,070)
2 15% (504)
1 6% (193)
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