Loner: A Novel (Hardcover)

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“Powerful.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

Named a best book of the year by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage • One of the most anticipated novels of the fall from New York magazine, Glamour, Lit Hub, Boston magazine, The Millions, and BookPage

David Federman has never felt appreciated. An academically gifted yet painfully forgettable member of his New Jersey high school class, the withdrawn, mild-mannered freshman arrives at Harvard fully expecting to be embraced by a new tribe of high-achieving peers. Initially, however, his social prospects seem unlikely to change, sentencing him to a lifetime of anonymity.

Then he meets Veronica Morgan Wells. Struck by her beauty, wit, and sophisticated Manhattan upbringing, David becomes instantly infatuated. Determined to win her attention and an invite into her glamorous world, he begins compromising his moral standards for this one, great shot at happiness. But both Veronica and David, it turns out, are not exactly as they seem.

Loner turns the traditional campus novel on its head as it explores ambition, class, and gender politics. It is a stunning and timely literary achievement from one of the rising stars of American fiction.

About the Author

Teddy Wayne, the author of Loner, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine, and Kapitoil, is the winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship as well as a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award, PEN/Bingham Prize, and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. He writes regularly for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. He lives in New York.

Praise For…


“Engrossing… highlights hot-button issues on today’s campuses, making it seem all too real.” People, “The Best Books of the Fall”

"Teddy Wayne has an uncanny ability to teleport to another location and inhabit the people who live there...Dark and compulsively readable...Wayne skillfully shows us every disturbing and obsessive moment...a tightly written, tensely memorable short novel." —Meg Wolitzer, NPR's Best Books of the Year

"An impressively creepy novel of first love...At a moment when so many young writers want to join the ranks of the angels, Wayne’s unfashionable wit, bitterness, and tight focus are a gift." —Lorin Stein, The Paris Review

"Wayne has created a uniquely terrifying and compelling protagonist for such a funny book... the best second-person novel I've read since Sam Lipsyte's Homeland... a great, lethal little book." —The Boston Globe

“Like all transgressive works of fiction, Loner is bound to be controversial. In some ways, the novel resembles a hyper-timely update to the psychological portrait of Humbert Humbert in Lolita. Similarly, Loner also asks the reader for a certain kind of bravery to stomach—and it rewards such risks.” GQ

“Wildly inventive and disturbing” Esquire

"Harrowing... complex [and] necessary." Salon

"A chilling commentary on gender politics... Teddy Wayne holds up the Ivy White Male card as the ultimate trump. He means to slap awake a country that glorifies wealth; deifies men; objectifies women; and treats victims of sexual assault like sluts, kooks, and gold-diggers. The story barely qualifies as fiction, and it arrives on our shelves just in time." —The Millions

"Engrossing, sometimes disturbing... 'Loner' is a fresh look at an old topic — longing, love and lust on campus. Read it, and appreciate what Wayne has accomplished. You won’t be alone." The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Loner is a campus novel for our times...The novel’s brilliance lies in the way Wayne toys with the reader’s sympathies while allowing his narrator to pursue his dreadful end...Loner is one prickly piece of work, but the genius is hard to miss." Los Angeles Review of Books

"Brilliantly terrifying... Teddy Wayne has written a masterclass on the privilege found in white male narcissism." —Electric Literature

"Wayne...writes with sly grace about the seemingly unsympathetic plight of being a white American man, albeit by using ironic extremes rather than domestic realism. His bemusement is real, and often funny." Bookforum

"Loner moves ahead to its climax (and a superbly executed plot twist) with the sickening momentum of a horror movie... It stands in stark contrast to Mr. Wayne’s previous novel, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine (2013), a funny, sympathetic portrait of a teenybopper pop star. The range shown in these two books, which move from the ridiculous to the chilling, is evidence of a rising talent." —The Wall Street Journal

“With wit and style, Whiting Award-winner Teddy Wayne strips away the elite veneer of the overachieving denizens of Harvard. . . Loner is comic and chilling campus coming-of-age at its best.” —Shelf Awareness

"A frightening portrayal of privilege." —Marie Claire

"Deft, involving...There is comic brio, but also an insider's precision, to Wayne's depiction...what is most frightening about Wayne's antihero protagonist (and narrator) is not how different he is from us--but how porous a border separates his monstrousness from our normalcy." —Chicago Tribune

"The reader is...compelled to frantically turn the pages."Publishers Weekly

"Wayne’s writing is spiky and electric...it reminded me of the early work of Jeffrey Eugenides...But if Loner at first appears to be a comedy of manners, it quickly veers into something far creepier...the reader may go from enjoying Loner to finding the experience not just uncomfortable but excruciating."  —The New York Times Book Review

"Magnetic...incredibly compelling." —BookPage

"Wayne has crafted a magnificent story. Thrilling, engrossing, and infuriating, Loner harks back—in a completely contemporary timbre—to literary classics that create compelling portraits of repellant characters, e.g., Crime and Punishment, The Great Gatsby, Lolita." —PopMatters

“Stunning—and profoundly disconcerting…the pleasure of the book is not in its ultratimely plot but in its complicated—and unsettlingly familiar—cast. These people are nuanced even when they’re disturbing, human even when they’re horrendous. A spectacular stylist, Wayne is deeply empathetic toward his characters, but—brutally and brilliantly—he refuses to either defend or excuse them. A startlingly sharp study of not just collegiate culture, but of social forces at large; a novel as absorbing as it is devastating.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“An enthralling portrait of male narcissism and voyeuristic obsession.” —Library Journal (starred review)

"Like a novel of manners distorted by a twisted funhouse mirror, Teddy Wayne’s Loner moves with wit and stealth and merciless deliberation towards increasingly brutal psychic terrain. Reading it, I found myself amused and then—with creeping force—afraid, repulsed, and ultimately unwilling to put it down." Leslie Jamison, New York Times bestselling author of The Empathy Exams and The Gin Closet

Loner is a brave book that takes up the calling of literature to unsettle the reader into new understanding of the world. Wayne employs extraordinarily fine psychological brushwork to produce something rare in our desensitized era: a genuinely disturbing portrait, not just of a fundamentally unreliable narrator but of a culture that prizes class, achievement, and beauty over nourishing human connection. David Federman is one of the most authentically menacing characters to come around in a novel in a long time. There is no cartoon bogeyman here, only a chaser after that external proof of value that our pragmatic culture demands of eighteen-year-olds. Wayne holds a mirror up to an America in which self-esteem is paramount, parents enable inhumanity in the name of advancement, and unchecked ego combines with social failure to yield monstrous ends. It behooves us all to take a careful look in the mirror Wayne offers, because the monster depicted here is the one next door. The twists in the plot keep the reader’s heart racing, even as the protagonist’s blood runs cold.” —Matthew Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of We Are Not Ourselves

"Teddy Wayne perfectly conjures the mind of a keenly observant, socially ambitious, and utterly heartless college student. Yet no matter what outlandish things David does, I couldn't help but root for him—until the book's gut-punch ending." —Adelle Waldman, bestselling author of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.

"Teddy Wayne’s captivating and increasingly disturbing Loner features a character that you’d like to hug if you could be assured that he wouldn’t try to stab you. It’s a wonderfully unnerving and unreliable first-person account of a dangerous stalker who is also a shy teenager just trying to get a date with the popular girl in school. This impossible-to-reconcile character, mixed with Wayne’s wry charm, makes Loner as thrilling as it is cautionary."—Jesse Eisenberg, author of Bream Gives Me Hiccups


"Sad-funny, sometimes cutting...more than a scabrous sendup of American celebrity culture; it’s also a poignant portrait of one young artist’s coming of age." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A funny, affecting tour of our cultural wasteland...It speaks well of both Jonny and his creator that the result is this good, a moving, entertaining novel that is both poignant and pointed — a sweet, sad skewering of the celebrity industry...his satirist's eye is impeccable...so limpidly does Wayne imitate the voice of a preteen celebrity, he risks making it look easy...to create out of that entitled adolescent voice a being of true longing and depth, and then to make him such a devastating weapon of cultural criticism — these are feats of unlikely virtuosity, like covering Jimi Hendrix on a ukulele...you’d have to be made of triple platinum not to ache for Jonny Valentine." —Jess Walter, New York Times Book Review (cover review and Editors' Choice)

"Assured prose and captivating storytelling." —Oprah.com, Book of the Week

"Buoyant, smart, searing."Entertainment Weekly

"Depicting the inner life of a protagonist who is not yet a full-fledged adult is no small feat, but author Teddy Wayne pulls it off masterfully." —The Daily Beast

“Deft and delightful . . . touching (and unexpectedly suspenseful).” —Wall Street Journal

"A showstopper….The book’s greatest triumph — and there are many — is Jonny’s voice….In addition to an exquisite rendering of Jonny’s growing awareness, the novel provides other delights [and] plenty of genuinely affecting moments." —Boston Globe

"'A fun, highly diverting read.…Wayne generates considerable sympathy for the 11-year-old kid trapped at the center of the churning entertainment machine….This is a portrait of the artist as a young brand.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Hugely entertaining." —The Washington Post

"Heartbreakingly convincing...Hate Bieber? Wayne's touching portrait might change your mind." People

"Provocative and bittersweet…A very funny novel when it isn't so sad, and vice versa." — Kirkus (starred review)

"Surprisingly moving...heartbreaking...A mix of pre-adolescent angst and industry cynicism that makes him sound like Holden Caulfield Jr. adrift in Access Hollywood hell." —Rolling Stone

"Masterfully executed. If this impressive novel, both entertaining and tragically insightful, were a song, it would have a Michael Jackson beat with Morrissey lyrics." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A stunning achievement in literary zeitgeist." —Interview

The Love Song of Jonny Valentine takes us deep into the dark arts and even darker heart of mass-market celebrity, twenty-first-century version. In the near-pubescent hitmaker of the title, Teddy Wayne delivers a wild ride through the upper echelons of the entertainment machine as it ingests human beings at one end and spews out dollars at the other. Jonny’s like all the rest of us, he wants to love and be loved, and as this brilliant novel shows, that’s a dangerous way to be when you’re inside the machine.” —Ben Fountain, New York Times bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

“This is a book with a runaway narrative engine, tremendous ambitions, and an even bigger heart. I do not lie when I tell you: Teddy Wayne is as good a young writer as we have.” —Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children

“A pitch-perfect anthem for our surreal American Dream, a power ballad for the twenty-first-century unhappy family, an epic ode to the fleeting glory of fame....A deeply entertaining novel with humor and heart to spare.” —Amber Dermont, New York Times bestselling author of The Starboard Sea


"[Karim]'s a type—the nerdy and needy young immigrant—that we’re all familiar with but that no other writer, as far as I know, has invented such a funny and compelling voice and story for...it does what novels can do better than any other art form: Show us a familiar world through unfamiliar eyes." Jonathan Franzen in The Daily Beast

"Teddy Wayne has written one of the best novels of my generation...Why did 9/11 happen, and why do we continue to respond so blindly? Wayne answers these questions better than Mohsin Hamid or Joseph O’Neill, the best authors of this genre until now...Wayne has completely foreseen and transcended the exhaustion of the 9/11 genre." —The Boston Globe

"Brilliant...a major literary talent." —The Houston Chronicle

"Flat out top-notch. Kapitoil makes you see America and the English language more clearly than ever before..." —McSweeney's

"[A] wonderfully assured debut novel, at once poignant, insightful, and funny." Booklist (starred review)

"[A] strong and heartfelt debut novel...that beautifully captures a time that, in retrospect, seems tragically naïve." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Affecting, timely, and frequently hilarious." Vanity Fair

"The first funny novel about oil." —GQ

"A book ripe with beauty and potential...and a flawlessly developed first-person voice. Karim Issar is a character readers will remember, and readers had better prepare themselves to remember the name of Teddy Wayne as well. It’s one they’ll be hearing again and again..." —BOMB

"Kapitoil is one of those uncommon novels that really is novel. Though the storytelling is conventional, it is satisfyingly so, and the book's estimable young narrator is a human type whom nobody until Wayne was ever inspired to write about." —Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom and The Corrections

"Teddy Wayne has written a brilliant book. Karim Issar is one of the freshest, funniest heroes I've come across in a long time, and thanks to his often excruciating adventures—financial, romantic, linguistic, and otherwise—we start to see America with Karim's weird and wonderful clarity. In its honesty, humor, intelligence, and hard-won wisdom, Kapitoil is 'Karim-esque' to the nth degree, and that is a very good way to be." —Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara

"An innovative and incisive meditation on the wages of corporate greed, the fundamental darkness of Kapitoil's vision is lit by the author's great comic intelligence and wit." —Kathryn Davis, author of The Thin Place

"What a wonderful character Karim is—the hapless, hilarious, math-obsessed hero of Teddy Wayne's first novel. Kapitoil is a delight. Who knew oil futures could be such fun?" —Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781501107894
ISBN-10: 1501107895
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: September 13th, 2016
Pages: 224
Language: English