The Last Language (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

duBois’s writing is seductive, haunting and whip-smart. Angela and Sam spend many months of long days engaged in an experiment where Angela teaches Sam how to use a typewriter-like machine to communicate. Sam is 28 years old, doesn’t speak, and has poor arm and hand coordination. Sam lives with his mother, so he and Angela work in his bedroom. As soon as Sam is trained on the device, he reveals a sophisticated mastery of English and broad-based knowledge. Several times, his mother closely watched as Sam as typed personal notes to her. After she finds Sam and Angela in bed together, she comes to doubt everything she saw Sam accomplish. The book gives strong hints of trouble early on, but the devastating effects are released slowly, in fine detail - much like a psychological thriller.

— Kay Wosewick


From Jennifer duBois, "one of a handful of living American novelists who can comprehend both the long arc of history and the minute details that animate it" (Karan Mahajan) and "a writer of thrilling psychological precision" (Justin Torres), comes a gripping new novel.In 2001, a few months after the death of her husband, Angela is devastated when she is ejected from her graduate program in linguistics at Harvard University. Soon after, she suffers a miscarriage. Spinning and raw, and with suppressed unresolved trauma, the young widow and her four-year-old child move into her mother's house.Trained with an understanding of spoken language as the essential foundation of thought, Angela finds underpaid work at the Center, a fledgling organization utilizing an experimental therapy aimed at helping nonspeaking patients with motor impairments. Through the Center, Angela begins to work closely with Sam, a twenty-eight-year-old patient who has been confined to his bedroom for most of his life. Sam quickly takes to the technology--and so does Angela. Her once deeply philosophical interest in language comes vividly to life through her interactions with Sam. Angela becomes intensely drawn to him, and their relationship soon turns intimate.When Sam's family discovers their relationship, they intervene and bring charges. As Angela tells her story from prison in the form of an unrepentant plea, we are plunged into the inner workings of her mind as she rejects all else in pursuit of a more profound understanding of language and humanity. As the sole narrator and perspective giver, Angela's understanding pushes and pulls us into ambiguity, and a Nabokovian hall of mirrors emerges as she tumbles deeper and deeper into obsession.Provocative and profound in its exploration of the basis of humanity, this is an extraordinary novel from one of our most acclaimed contemporary writers.

About the Author

Jennifer duBois is the author of The Last Language. Her first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel and winner of the California Book Award for First Work of Fiction. Soon after its publication, duBois received a Whiting Award and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award. Her second novel, Cartwheel, was a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award and the winner of the Housatonic Book Award. And her third novel, The Spectators, was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Stanford University Stegner Fellowship, duBois teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University. She lives in Austin.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781639551088
ISBN-10: 1639551085
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication Date: October 17th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English