book cover of Martyr!
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A novel by

A most anticipated book of 2024 for Time, Nylon, Oprah, Marie Claire and CNN
One of Sarah Jessica Parker's Books of the Year

‘I will carry this story, and the people in it, with me for the rest of my life’ - John Green, author of
The Fault in Our Stars

'Smart, dazzling, different . . . This book is thrilling. It's like watching the novel itself be reinvented' - Ann Patchett, author of Tom Lake

'This book vibrates with love of life, beauty and language. I’m in awe...' - Natalie Portman

Cyrus Shams is lost.

Ever since his mother’s plane was senselessly shot down over the Persian Gulf when he was just a baby, Cyrus has been grappling with her death. Now, newly sober, he is set to learn the truth of her life.

When an encounter with a dying artist leads Cyrus towards the mysteries of his past – an uncle who rode through Iranian battlefields dressed as an Angel of Death, a haunting work of art by an exiled painter – he finds himself once again caught up in the story of his mother, who may not have been who or what she seemed. As Cyrus searches for meaning in the scattered clues of his life, a final revelation transforms everything he thought he knew.

Electrifying, funny, wholly original, and profound,
Martyr! heralds the arrival of a blazing and essential new voice in contemporary fiction.

* Martyr! was an instant New York Times bestseller w/c 27/1/24

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"A brilliant and blisteringly alive novel about not just how we go on, but also why. Kaveh Akbar's first novel is so stunning, so wrenching, and so beautifully written that reading it for the first time, I kept forgetting to breathe. I will carry this story, and the people in it, with me for the rest of my life." - John Green

"Kaveh Akbar is a radiant soul, a poet so agile and largehearted it comes as no surprise that his first leap into fiction is elegant, dizzying, playful. MARTYR! is the best novel you'll ever read about the joy of language, addiction, displacement, martyrdom, belonging, homesickness for people longed for but forever unknown, the way art as eruption of life gazes back into death, and the ecstasy that sometimes arrives - like grace - when we find ourselves teetering on the knife-edge of despair." - Lauren Groff

"I disappeared into Martyr! - utterly consumed by it - and then it returned me to the world with wider eyes, a swollen heart, and sharpened nerve endings. This is a book that understands the strangeness and grief and ecstasy of being alive; that understands the strange envelope of a body, the proximate sublime on the bare chest of a beloved; the baffled wonderment of sobriety, the grief that spans every scale of the human project - and, more than anything, the impossible salvation of love persisting not despite but through these materials. Kaveh Akbar writes with the staggering entirety of his mind and heart, and Martyr! will stay in my soul for good - a fever dream, a reckoning, a heartbreak, a shattering and mending, a delight - its double-helix of dreams and conversation now part of my own DNA for good." - Leslie Jamison

"Kaveh Akbar renders the full spectrum of life, and death, with great beauty and care." - Raven Leilani

"An absolute jewel of a novel. A diamond. I haven't loved a book this much in years. Kaveh's writing is so thoroughly powerful and gorgeous you can feel it from where dreams come, and in all over your brain, and straight from the bottom of your heart. This book does everything. It is so entirely funny and sad and true and beautiful. Kaveh Akbar is one of my favorite writers. Ever." - Tommy Orange

"I can't remember the last time a book made me feel like this. Martyr! is simply extraordinary. The language moves across the page like a symphony, and the story vibrates with an energy that made the book impossible to put down. Kaveh Akbar has written a novel that will stay with me forever. What a story. What a voice. What a gift." - Clint Smith

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