book cover of Blackouts
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Blackouts

(2023)
A novel by

 
 
Awards
2024 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction (finalist)
2024 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction (finalist)
2023 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction (nominee)
2023 National Book Award for Fiction
2023 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (nominee)

Juan Gay is on his deathbed. He has decided to spend his last days in The Palace: a monumental, fading institution in the desert, which was an asylum in another lifetime. There, a young man tends to this dying soul - someone who Juan met only once, but who has haunted the edges of his life ever since.

As the end approaches, the two trade stories - resurrecting lost loves, lives, mothers and fathers - and their lives are woven, ineluctably, into a broader story of pathology and oppression. Charged with sifting through Juan's belongings, our narrator uncovers a copy of
Sex Variants: A Study in Homosexual Patterns, its pages blacked out, censored, reduced down to poetic dispatches. And, as he sifts through the manuscript, another story is told: that of Jan Gay - a radical, queer anthropologist - whose ground-breaking work was co-opted, and stifled, by the committee she served.

Blackouts is a haunting, dreamlike rumination on memory and erasure, on the ways in which stories sustain histories. Both emotionally and intellectually daring, Justin Torres blends fact with fiction - drawing from historical records, screenplays, testimony and image - force us to look again at the world we have inherited and the narratives we have received.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Blackouts is a manifesto and a masterwork-an enthralling, dazzling feat of literary bravura. Justin Torres is the real thing." - Rabih Alameddine

"Erotic and beguiling, Blackouts prowls the negative spaces that surround us, inviting us to think about erasure and collage not just as literary techniques, but as psychological processes, and even as radical acts of cultural and sexual reframing. An intelligent, loving, and genuinely subversive work." - Eleanor Catton

"Blackouts gives me what I read fiction for, what I read for at all-the sense of a brilliant mind creating a puzzle in the air in front of me, all intelligence and surprises. Ambitious, disarming, full of a kind of daring that winks as it passes-as if David Wojnarowicz rewrote Nabokov's Pale Fire and then left it for years in an abandoned building, just for you." - Alexander Chee

"Blackouts is unequivocally brilliant, bold, and structurally inventive. Like its absorbing narrator, who tells stories to keep his friend alive, Justin Torres has written a shamelessly vital novel that reminds us all not to give up on ourselves, on one another, or on our stories." - Angie Cruz

"Justin Torres is a master of the urgent, surprising sentence. Blackouts is a stunning achievement of re-creation, imagination, and tender, tender care." - Angela Flournoy

"I'm crushed out on Justin Torres's writing: charming, sexy, soft, and full of truth. His words cut like Cupid's arrow." - Brontez Purnell

"[Justin] Torres is back with another book that stretches the boundaries of the idea of the novel . . . I was . . . surprised and enchanted by Blackouts . . . a strange dream-like, reality-like patchwork . . . This is a book about erasure and time, about storytelling and art and science, and also, if you'll forgive me, about love. I couldn't put it down." - Emily Temple

"Blackouts is a beautiful collage of a novel. Justin Torres quenches a thirst one scene, one flashback, one image at a time." - Alejandro Varela


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