“Delightful…cathartic, devious, and terrifically entertaining.” —The New York Times
“Timely, whip-smart, and darkly funny.” —People (Book of the Week)
“A deliciously dark fable of sex and power.” —Esquire
A provocative, razor-sharp, and timely debut novel about a beloved English professor facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by former students—a situation that becomes more complicated when she herself develops an obsession of her own...
“When I was a child, I loved old men, and I could tell that they also loved me.”
And so we are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator: a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the same small liberal arts college is under investigation for his inappropriate relationships with his former students. The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their extra-marital pursuits, but with these new allegations, life has become far less comfortable for them both. And when our narrator becomes increasingly infatuated with Vladimir, a celebrated, married young novelist who’s just arrived on campus, their tinder box world comes dangerously close to exploding.
With this bold, edgy, and uncommonly assured debut, author Julia May Jonas takes us into charged territory, where the boundaries of morality bump up against the impulses of the human heart. Propulsive, darkly funny, and wildly entertaining, Vladimir perfectly captures the personal and political minefield of our current moment, exposing the nuances and the grey area between power and desire.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Julia May Jonas’ smart and provocative debut explores issues of desire, aging, creativity, and even morality. The novel’s unnamed narrator is a fiftysomething English professor who’s dissatisfied with her life, especially now that her husband has become mired in a #metoo scandal. But when a promising younger writer named Vladimir Vladinski joins the faculty, Jonas’ heroine finds her emotions—and creative juices—all stirred up. Jonas drops us right into the head of her stunningly imperfect narrator and gives us access to her deepest secrets, including the details of her unconventional marriage and the nitty-gritty of her insecurities, jealousies, and lustful thoughts. Vladimir is an intense, gripping read that feels fresh and modern. We can’t wait to read Jonas’ next book.
Playwright Jonas debuts with a mordantly funny post-#MeToo campus story about a 50-something woman unhinged by desire for a younger man. The unnamed narrator, a tenured English professor at a small upstate New York liberal arts college, starts the fall semester embroiled in scandal. The scandal is not hers (at least not at first) her husband, John, also a professor in the department, has been placed on leave pending the results of a hearing after being accused of sexual predation by a host of young women, many of them former students. Denounced by both her colleagues and her adult daughter for her complicity in John's behavior, the narrator retreats into obsessive sexual fantasies about a new young colleague, Vladimir. She also yearns to recapture the physical allure of her youth and revive her own stagnant writing, and by the end, her behavior turns monstrous. Vain, narcissistic, and seemingly oblivious to the absurdity of her actions, the narrator can nevertheless pluck at readers' sympathies, especially in the generous and thoughtful ways she helps her daughter during her own personal crisis. The author generously studs the narrative with clever literary allusions (the narrator describes her mind in contrast to Edna St. Vincent Millay's: "more like a chaotic battle scene than the unfurling of insight"), and surprisingly upends assumptions about gender, power, and shame. Jonas is off to a strong start.