***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***
***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***
Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction
Longlisted for the 2022 Carnegie Medal Fiction, the 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Prize and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize
A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!
One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction | One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 | One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year | One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books | One of NPR.org's "Books We Love" | One of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Adults | One of Entertainment Weekly's 15 Books you Need to Read This June | On Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" | One of The NY Post's Best Summer Reading books | One of GMA's 27 Books for June | One of USA Today's 5 Books Not to Miss | One of Fortune's 21 Most Anticipated Books Coming out in the Second Half of 2021 | One of The Root's PageTurners: It’s Getting Hot in Here | One of Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in 2021 |One of The Philadelphia Inquirer's Best of 2021
An astounding work of fiction from a New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans, and America as a whole
In Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.
As these characters’ stories build and build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it’s also about the nation’s reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.
Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind? Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists it truly becomes its title.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
The “hell” in the title of Jason Mott’s heartbreaking satire refers to the experience of being a Black man in America. His novel plays out in two parallel storylines. Half of the chapters follow an unnamed author on a punishing book tour as he fields relentless questions about a recent police shooting while inching closer to a complete nervous breakdown. The other half revolves around an “impossibly dark-skinned” boy in the rural South (cruelly nicknamed Soot) who witnesses a life-altering tragedy. Will these characters’ paths cross and, if so, how? Mott pulls off several clever narrative tricks to show us that no amount of humor, effort, or even magic can spare his characters and their families the terrible consequences of racism. Nuanced and riveting, Hell of a Book captures our current reality in all its urgency.
Mott's stunning fourth novel (after The Crossing) delves into the complex and fraught African American experience. The protagonist, a nameless Black author on his first book tour, is reeling from his newfound fame and the success of his book, Hell of a Book. As he flies to promotional events, often in a drunken stupor, the author reveals that his vivid imagination makes it difficult for him to distinguish reality from fiction. So when he encounters "The Kid," a 10-year-old boy with impossibly ebony skin, the author doubts the boy is real. The Kid, who uncannily resembles a recent victim of police violence, first appears at a hotel and continues to pop up during the book tour, leading the author to recall his own repressed trauma as a bullied Black boy in North Carolina. The author's sobering recollections of his youth are punctuated with humorous and insightful encounters that include a discussion on national sociopolitical identity with Nicolas Cage and an improbable first date with a funeral director. Mott's poetic, cinematic novel tackles what it means to live in a country where Black people perpetually "live lives under the hanging sword of fear." Absurdist metafiction doesn't get much better.
Heartrending, Important, and Miraculous
Probably one of the best books I’ve read in my nearly 70 years on this earth. This book will not only tear apart your heart and soul, it will also fortify you to keep fighting for what is right and work harder to fix what is wrong in this country. No spoilers here, just an honest plea for all to read this and, through the awe and tears p make a determination to speak out, fight and never give up. More than deserving of its award status. A truly powerful work.
The title says it all
Beautifully written, entertaining, devastating. Just read it.
A book that has come at a perfect time when the world needs so much more awareness and compassion than its ever given to the Soot’s and his family and his race