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Charmed Particles: A Novel


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About the Author

Chrissy Kolaya is a poet and fiction writer, the author of a collection of poems, Any Anxious Body. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in a number of anthologies and literary journals, including Chariton Review, Crab Orchard Review, Crazzyhorse, Iron Horse Literary Review, and others.


"On the foundation of these parallel households, debuting novelist Kolaya adeptly builds a magnetizing, deeply perceptive tale of the clash between outsiders and insiders, personal obsession and family, tradition and change, dream and delusion. Writing with bright tenderness, piquant humor, and supple wisdom, Kolaya emulates, ever so subtly, the fleet dynamics of particle physics as she orchestrates a mesmerizing plot of revelation and adaptation. As the two brainy girls bond, the two marriages come under strain, and the town and the lab face off over plans for a Superconducting Super Collider, Kolaya investigates urgent questions of ignorance and fear, authenticity and deceit, of bridging gaps between cultures and individuals, and of recognizing and embracing what truly matters." -Booklist Starred Review "Part immigration story, part Midwestern pastoral, Kolaya's charming debut maps the schisms of a small Illinois town that's divided over a proposal to build a Superconducting Super Collider at the local research lab... Yet for all the novel's earnest focus on local politics, the book is at its best and most nuanced when Kolaya turns her attention to the personal: Abhijat and Sarala's marriage, Lily and Meena's increasingly difficult friendship, and--above all--Abhijat's internal struggle to come to terms with the reality of his career." -Kirkus Reviews "This is such an accomplished debut novel based in part on the cultural and economic controversy that occurred when the Fermi Lab came to town in the seventies. Kolaya handles an intriguing and sympathetic cast of characters with aplomb--it's a brainy, witty page-turner, and marks the start of what I hope will be a long career for Kolaya as a novelist." -Newcity Lit "Having already established herself as an award-winning poet and master of short stories, Chrissy Kolaya has proven herself--with her debut novel--to be a brilliant novelist as well. With its thoughtful consideration of community, science, and the balance between work and life, Charmed Particles is an engaging, provoking, and utterly charming debut." -- Andrew Carroll, author of the New York Times bestsellers War Letters and Behind the Lines "Charmed Particles is inspired by very real stories straight from today's headlines, yet managed to mesmerize me in the way of an intoxicating fairytale. Kolaya's characters are flawed, though sympathetic citizens, gazing suspiciously at one another across great chasms of misunderstanding--passionately divided. Yet in her alchemical hands we're shown what is possible when we have the courage to venture deep within our wounded hearts: sweet magic." --Susan Power, author of GRASS DANCER "Charmed Particles is a deftly constructed fable of modernity told in elegant, pellucid prose. Kolaya draws her characters with affectionate acuity and the whole reminds me--in its depiction of childhood precocity and earnest adult eccentricity--of one of Wes Anderson's wry wonders." --Peter Ho Davies, author of THE WELSH GIRL "A wonderfully impish satire, Chrissy Kolaya's Charmed Particles is all about various cross-cultural, cross-temporal, & cross-spatial explorations as charged with mystery, magic, and possibility as the high-energy particle physics conducted at the National Accelerator Research Lab that forms the novel's literal and metaphoric heart. What a sparkling debut." --Lance Olsen, author of Theories of Forgetting "Chrissy Kolaya writes from a place of deep intelligence, humor, and sympathy about a cast of varied, marvelously drawn characters. This debut novel is an extremely accomplished and affecting story about family, ambition, the immigrant experience, and the inexorable forward movement of Time and its much-admired handmaiden Progress. Truly wonderful." - Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts and Paris, He Said "Charmed Particles is more than an insightful, yet fictional, depiction of the human impact on different communities concerned with the late 20th-century Superconducting Super Collider. Unfolding gently through the evolving stories of two young families, it builds to a moment of colliding perspectives over pioneering progress in physics versus historical physical preservation and ultimately reveals the shared aspirations of both. You will enjoy this tender, timely, and thought-provoking first novel by Chrissy Kolaya." - Adrienne Kolb, co-author of Tunnel Visions: The Rise and Fall of the Superconducting Super Collider

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