Broken People (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Is loving yourself just a matter of hating yourself less? What’s more important - finding the truth of the past, some sort of personal inciting incident, or learning to live without the need for it? Lansky’s novel is rangy, searching, and razor-sharply self-critical autofiction about Sam, a (self-described) broken young writer desperate to be healed via a weekend ayahuasca trip led by a bougie middle-aged white guy shaman who promises (then spends the whole book infuriatingly, hilariously hedging) to fix everything that’s wrong in three days or less. Lansky’s sickness is a symptom and a symbol; a cultural signifier, a self-manifested punishment, and simple bad luck. Sam relives layers of memory (particularly his relationships and sexual history, his sobriety and identify as an addict) rediscovering and recontextualizing the stories he tells as an act of self-definition. And so what if, at the end of three days, Sam isn’t fixed? Lansky makes this question feel breathtakingly, viscerally life-or-death until, beautifully, it isn’t, and the real question emerges: can a broken person accept that he doesn’t need to be fixed?

— Chris Lee

What teenager isn’t self-conscious about everything about themselves? Most seem to grow out of that sometime in their 20s, but not Sam. Always checking himself in a mirror, never liking what he sees. He’s so down on himself that he unconsciously and repeatedly drives away the very people he wants to be with. The question this affecting books poses is: can Sam change? Sam and his friends come vividly alive in Lansky’s hands, and they will get under your skin and stay for a while.

— Kay Wosewick

June 2020 Indie Next List

Broken People tells one man’s deeply personal story of confronting insecurities, obsessions, and frustrations while challenging many current cultural constructs. The pain and self-doubt will be recognized by many a reader, who will in equal measure cheer and thank Lansky for sharing a hopeful journey to forgiveness.”
— Linda McLoughlin Figel, pages: a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, CA


"Sam Lansky has such a wondrous way with words."--Taylor Swift

*A Kaia Gerber Book Club Pick*


Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, Parade, Library Journal, Harper's Bazaar and more

"Profound and affecting."--Chloe Benjamin

A groundbreaking, incandescent debut novel about coming to grips with the past and ourselves, for fans of Sally Rooney, Hanya Yanagihara and Garth Greenwell

"He fixes everything that's wrong with you in three days."

This is what hooks Sam when he first overhears it at a fancy dinner party in the Hollywood hills: the story of a globe-trotting shaman who claims to perform "open-soul surgery" on emotionally damaged people. For neurotic, depressed Sam, new to Los Angeles after his life in New York imploded, the possibility of total transformation is utterly tantalizing. He's desperate for something to believe in, and the shaman--who promises ancient rituals, plant medicine and encounters with the divine--seems convincing, enough for Sam to sign up for a weekend under his care.

But are the great spirits the shaman says he's summoning real at all? Or are the ghosts in Sam's memory more powerful than any magic?

At turns tender and acid, funny and wise, Broken People is a journey into the nature of truth and fiction--a story of discovering hope amid cynicism, intimacy within chaos and peace in our own skin.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781335013934
ISBN-10: 1335013938
Publisher: Hanover Square Press
Publication Date: June 9th, 2020
Pages: 304
Language: English