book cover of The Narcissism of Small Differences
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The Narcissism of Small Differences

(2020)
A novel by

 
 
"Like Zadoorian's earlier novels--The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit, The Leisure Seeker and Beautiful Music--this new novel brims with wit, passion and soul."
--The Millions, one of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2020

"If the very idea of irony were to die during the coronavirus, how would one bury it? A new book by Ferndale writer Michael Zadoorian might provide an answer."
--Lansing City Pulse

"[Zadoorian's] message--that as we get older, it's okay to reimagine our lives and maybe even sell out a little, as long as we stay true to our authentic selves--is earnest. And a side plot that takes Joe through some grand theaters of yesteryear, now dangerously decrepit, provides moments of genuine poignancy."
--Booklist

"Zadoorian's comedy of contemporary manners resonates by virtue of its introspective characters and depictions of the small moments in life that, taken together, have great significance. Piquantly titled chapters ('Out Come the Freaks') provide additional comic snap. Zadoorian's subtle, timely story hits the mark."
--Publishers Weekly

"Detroit in 2009 is depicted as a place whose glory days are behind it and whose future is uncertain. Ana and Joe are neither fortune-seeking gentrifiers nor grizzled veterans, and their need to find a specific place where they belong makes for some of this novel's most affecting moments...[This novel's] empathy and lived-in qualities are both appealing."
--Kirkus Reviews

"[A] warm, surprisingly playful novel about middle-age crisis...Zadoorian's obvious affection for Detroit, along with his enthusiasm for his characters' pursuit of meaningful lives, makes this a very enjoyable read."
--Library Journal

"Michael Zadoorian uses funky hometown of Ferndale as the backdrop of his latest novel."
--Stateside (Michigan Public Radio)

Joe Keen and Ana Urbanek have been a couple for a long time, with all the requisite lulls and temptations, yet they remain unmarried and without children, contrary to their Midwestern values (and parents' wishes). Now on the cusp of forty, they are both working at jobs that they're not even sure they believe in anymore, but with significantly varying returns. Ana is successful, Joe is floundering--both in limbo, caught somewhere between mainstream and alternative culture, sincerity and irony, achievement and arrested development.

Set against the backdrop of bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, a once-great American city now in transition, part decaying and part striving to be reborn, The Narcissism of Small Differences is the story of an aging creative class, doomed to ask the questions: Is it possible to outgrow irony? Does not having children make you one? Is there even such a thing as selling out anymore?

More than a comedy of manners, The Narcissism of Small Differences is a comedy of compromise: the financial compromises we make to feed ourselves; the moral compromises that justify our questionable actions; the everyday compromises we all make just to survive in the world. Yet it's also about the consequences of those compromises--and the people we become because of them--in our quest for a life that is our own and no one else's.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"Against the backdrop of a crumbling Detroit, Zadoorian's prose sparkles and shimmers, infusing this love ballad of a novel with humor and light. Zadoorian is a writer who hears music everywhere and in everything, a writer who turns the act of reading into something as lush as a concert, as intimate as a mixtape." - Nickolas Butler

"The Narcissism of Small Differences is at once an intimate portrait of contemporary Detroit, a comedy of manners in modern marriage, and an honest depiction of the difficult choices--professional, creative, economic--many of us make while under the vise grip of late capitalism. The novel proposes that, while stuck in the craw of late empire, the very least we can do is keep an open heart. I laughed and winced equally in recognition. Michael Zadoorian is to Detroit what Stuart Dybek is to Chicago: a seer, even when the seeing hurts." - Sally Franson

"Simmering beneath the humor and irony of this story is a poignant quest for meaning and authenticity in a postmodern world that supposedly holds all the answers. Michael Zadoorian is a deft, thoughtful, and intelligent writer who has deep compassion and understanding for the human condition, and his humility and humanity infuse every page. I loved this book." - Michael Imperioli

"'You shut up and went to work because people were counting on you, ' writes Michael Zadoorian in The Narcissism of Small Differences. This is perhaps the best description ever of the Detroit attitude, exemplified by protagonists Joe and Ana, a couple at the crossroads, utterly compelling as they try to move up--and stay together--in the world's most blue-collar city. Zadoorian's glittering prose will often make you laugh, but it's his gusto and unfailing eye that pull at your heart in this fantastic novel." - Scott Lasser

"Michael Zadoorian writes his characters with wit, humor, and compassion--clearly, he loves them, and this warmth comes shining through." - Mira T Lee

"In The Narcissism of Small Differences, Michael Zadoorian writes with smart, skewering accuracy about relationships and midlife, about the costs of irony and complacency, and about how change comes for all of us, whether we're ready for it or not. Zadoorian's humor does that rare thing: packs a punch even as it moves us to sympathy and emotional connection. With Detroit as his steady muse and memory palace, Zadoorian is a writer of consequence in full command of his gifts." - Paula McLain

"The Narcissism of Small Differences asks big questions and delivers big answers but not without wit, taste, and style. A snapshot of a modern relationship, all messiness included. There's nobody better than Michael Zadoorian at unearthing the beauty in ruins, the truth in jest, youth in aging. In a literary landscape where most are hell-bent on outplotting their peers, he has sculpted a thriller from everyday life. For this, it's my most cherished book of the year." - Josh Malerman

"A masterful storyteller and prose stylist, Michael Zadoorian doesn't disappoint with The Narcissism of Small Differences, a smart, briskly paced novel set in 2009 Detroit about an aging hipster and his more responsible mate struggling to keep their relationship from veering down the same path as their crumbling, economically wrecked city." - Donald Ray Pollock

"Like a song you can't stop playing, Beautiful Music casts a spell on your heart. With clarity and tenderness, Zadoorian sweeps us into a life that we recognize as our own. Remember when you were lonely, scared, unsure, and then somehow found your own kind of bravery and actual, genuine joy? Beautiful Music will take you there--and give you the soundtrack to get you through." - Scott Sparling


Used availability for Michael Zadoorian's The Narcissism of Small Differences

Hardback Editions

May 2020 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
ISBN: 1-61775-818-3 / 978-1-61775-818-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Akashic Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

May 2020 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
ISBN: 1-61775-817-5 / 978-1-61775-817-1 (USA edition)
Publisher: Akashic Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Audio Editions

May 2020 : USA Audio CD
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
ISBN: 1-69059-507-8 / 978-1-69059-507-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Availability: Amazon   


May 2020 : USA Audio CD
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
ISBN: 1-69059-511-6 / 978-1-69059-511-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Dreamscape Media
Availability: Amazon   


May 2020 : Australia Audio edition
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Availability: Amazon AU   


May 2020 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Availability: Amazon CA   


May 2020 : UK Audio edition
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
Availability: Amazon UK   


Kindle Editions

May 2020 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition
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Title: The Narcissism of Small Differences
Author(s): Michael Zadoorian
Publisher: Akashic Books
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU