Scotiabank Giller-winner Sean Michaels is back with his widely anticipated second novel, The Wagers, a deeply satisfying story of long odds, magical heists and the dizzying gamble of life. Where does luck come from? What is it worth? And how much of it do you need to be happy?
Theo Potiris is a grocer and a comedian who never repeats his jokes. After 15 years of open mics, he's still waiting for his break--bicycling to the comedy club at night, stacking plums at his family's grand and ramshackle supermarket by day. His girlfriend is halfway around the world, searching for enlightenment with a patron who happens to be the richest man on Earth, and when two other loved-ones get struck by bolts from the blue, Theo decides he can't keep chasing his old dreams any longer. He resolves to trade his wishes in, pursuing a bigger score.
Here Sean Michaels' novel takes a surprise left turn, away from the price of milk and into a shabby, beautiful, imaginary Montreal where peacocks strut on street corners and gamblers bet on sunny days. Theo uncovers a mysterious association of sports-obsessed mathematicians, The Rabbit's Foot, which is turning probability into riches, and the vigilante No Name Gang, who steal luck from those who have taken more than their fair share. Bursting with sheer story-telling pleasure and stylish prose, The Wagers carries you along on wave after wave of invention--a literary motorcycle chase that soon has you wondering about the randomness of good fortune and all the ways we choose to wage our lives.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Sean Michaels won Canada’s top fiction award, the Scotiabank Giller Prize, for his first novel, Us Conductors. His second novel is equally enchanting, showcasing his knack for suddenly shifting his quirky characters into a kind of magical surrealism. The Wagers follows Theo, a Montreal grocer and stand-up comic who falls in with a group of shady oddsmakers and odds-breakers who make their own good luck by stealing it from others. We love how Michaels transforms regular people and familiar environments into the vivid stuff of fantasy.
Luck (and the lack of it) is the subject of this quirky work from Michaels (Us Conductors). At 36, Theo Potiris is a struggling stand-up comedian, despite one appearance on Conan. He works in his parents' grocery store and plays the local comedy clubs on open-mic nights. Then, one day, he takes his 13-year-old niece, Hanna, to the track, where she wins $4 million on her first pick. This rocks Theo's world to the point where he quits his job in favor of employment with the Rabbit Foot, a consortium of scientists who are attempting to quantify luck and monetize it. Then, he meets a woman named Simone who recruits him for the No Name Gang, which attempts to steal luck from those who hoard it. As part of this gang, Theo helps hijack luck from novelist Daniel Merrett Leys, author of The Labrador Sea, and billionaire businessman Z. Largo, with ever increasing risk of arrest or betrayal. What starts out as a fairly realistic drama eventually morphs into a surreal caper, with luck as an actual commodity to be prized though to what end is never made entirely clear by the author. Some readers will be overwhelmed by the whimsy of the story, while others will enjoy Michaels's unflagging imagination.