Los Verticales was more than a tower, it was a huge monument to a self-sustaining society; a form of Utopia. Like all Utopias, it collapsed, quite literally, killing everyone. Well, almost everyone. Bernard starts transmitting over the radio station that he worked for, and the whole world starts listening and calling in. His brother, Orville, has joined the dig to attempt to unearth him. Orville phones into Bernard's studio every night, which has been a ratings boost for the station. When the head of marketing attempts to recruit Orville to sprinkle in some product placement while in conversation with Bernard, Orville gets a bit indignant. From there the story starts to gather momentum into crazy coincidences and some amazing characters. This is the first book in 2020 to read - you won't be able to put it down.— Jason Kennedy
When the gargantuan 500-story apartment building called Los Verticalés - the Vert, if you're cool - collapses and becomes the Heap, Orville joins the dig effort to rescue his brother Bernard, miraculously alive and broadcasting from... well, somewhere inside the Heap. Orville's daily calls to his brother are like a soap opera to the outside world, but being a minor celebrity isn't all it's cracked up to be, so when someone approaches Orville with a lucrative advertising deal, he refuses. And yet, somehow, that's Orville's voice on calls to his brother, peppering in casual mentions of products. What follows this inciting incident is an insane cat-and-mouse game/hostage situation/heist that is weirdly hilarious from start to finish. What an impressive debut novel! Adams thoroughly establishes two microcosms of society, the Vert and Campertown (where the diggers live), while keeping the story moving along with multiple perspectives. I couldn't put it down!— Rachel Copeland
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
Featured on recommended reading lists by the New York Times • New York Post • Library Journal • Thrillist • Locus • USA TODAY
"The first great science fiction novel of 2020. " —NPR
“As intellectually playful as the best of Thomas Pynchon and as sardonically warm as the best of Kurt Vonnegut. . . A masterful and humane gem of a novel.” —Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters
Blending the piercing humor of Alexandra Kleeman and the jagged satire of Black Mirror, an audacious, eerily prescient debut novel that chronicles the rise and fall of a massive high-rise housing complex, and the lives it affected before - and after - its demise.
Standing nearly five hundred stories tall, Los Verticalés once bustled with life and excitement. Now this marvel of modern architecture and nontraditional urban planning has collapsed into a pile of rubble known as the Heap. In exchange for digging gear, a rehabilitated bicycle, and a small living stipend, a vast community of Dig Hands removes debris, trash, and bodies from the building’s mountainous remains, which span twenty acres of unincorporated desert land.
Orville Anders burrows into the bowels of the Heap to find his brother Bernard, the beloved radio DJ of Los Verticalés, who is alive and miraculously broadcasting somewhere under the massive rubble. For months, Orville has lived in a sea of campers that surrounds the Heap, working tirelessly to free Bernard—the only known survivor of the imploded city—whom he speaks to every evening, calling into his radio show.
The brothers’ conversations are a ratings bonanza, and the station’s parent company, Sundial Media, wants to boost its profits by having Orville slyly drop brand names into his nightly talks with Bernard. When Orville refuses, his access to Bernard is suddenly cut off, but strangely, he continues to hear his own voice over the airwaves, casually shilling products as “he” converses with Bernard.
What follows is an imaginative and darkly hilarious story of conspiracy, revenge, and the strange life and death of Los Verticalés that both captures the wonderful weirdness of community and the bonds that tie us together.
About the Author
Sean Adams is a graduate of Bennington College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His fiction has appeared in Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Normal School, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Arkansas International, and elsewhere. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Emma, and their various pets.
"Cutting satire . . . . A compelling narrative with unexpected twists and darkly comic turns."
— New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
“Like Snowpiercer's train, a George Saunders amusement park, or the fractured cityscape from a Donald Barthelme story, The Heap's Los Verticalés is a sardonic monument to our decadent culture teetering on the brink of collapse. A wry, inventive, and highly original debut.”
— Chandler Klang Smith, author of The Sky Is Yours
"The Heap is dizzying in scale, but at its heart it's an endearing and downright fun story about a man who defies all odds to reestablish a familial link that's been sundered by technology, catastrophe and commerce. . . . The first great science fiction novel of 2020, The Heap is sharp, acidic and sweet."
“Somehow both timely and timeless, The Heap explores with heart what it means to live in the wake of strange new kinds of catastrophe.”
— Seth Fried, author of The Municipalists
"Darkly funny and dystopian."
— New York Post
“As intellectually playful as the best of Thomas Pynchon and as sardonically warm as the best of Kurt Vonnegut, The Heap is both a hilarious send-up of life under late capitalism and a moving exploration of the peculiar loneliness of the early 21st century. A masterful and humane gem of a novel.”
— Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters
“An incandescent, melancholy satire. . . . Fans of Borges and other inventive but piercing stories will revel in this offbeat novel.”
— Publishers Weekly
"A sharp, evocative look at human arrogance and the sense of community we build after tragedy."
— Library Journal
“[The Heap] recalls elaborate dystopian scenes found in Terry Gillam films. . . . Irresistibly clever commentary steeped in wit and secrets.”
“A dystopian nightmare that is metaphorical in nature but has a compelling story. . . . A vision of the future that gives the working class a chance to get even.”
— Kirkus Reviews
"A deeply weird but poignant novel about the extended family we discover amongst the rubble and ruin of a rich man's folly."