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Empty Hearts : A Novel


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About the Author

JULI ZEH's novels include Eagles and Angels, In Free Fall, and Decompression. She has worked at the United Nations in New York, taught at the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig, and currently lives in Brandenburg, where she is an honorary constitutional judge. She has been awarded numerous prizes for her work, including the German Book Prize, the Carl Amery Literature Prize, the Thomas Mann Prize, and the Hildegard von Bingen Award, and several of her novels have been adapted for film and television. In 2018, she was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for her outstanding contribution to literature.


“If you want to write a dystopian novel in these quasi-dystopian times, you need to go dark. Really dark. And the premise of Juli Zeh’s bracing, furious novel, Empty Hearts, is so dark that I laughed out loud when I read it on the book’s back cover . . . Empty Hearts has the veneer of a thriller but it’s more accurate to call it a chiller: chilling in the accuracy of its satire and chilling in its diagnosis of our modern malaise.”
—Adam Sternbergh, New York Times Book Review

“Empty Hearts explores interesting ideas about the price of failure to act against tyranny . . . Zeh challenges readers to consider how complicit we are in our current political dilemmas.”
—Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times

“2019 has seen a string of novelists exploring the destabilised Western political psyche, but Empty Hearts strikes me as one of the strongest so far. It asks, what if the current political climate led not to catastrophe, but to stagnation? Its answer comes in the form of both a riveting thriller and a nuanced piece of social science fiction—predictive and precautionary . . . Brilliantly executed—one of the stand-outs of the year.”
—Helen Marshall, New Scientist

"As dark and funny as the genre gets."
—Boris Kachka, Vulture.com (7 New Books You Should Read this August)

“Darkly entertaining . . . A thoughtful political thriller with a provocative sense of humor.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A gripping, character-driven thriller that’s rooted in insightful political commentary-perfect for beach reading.”

“Will keep readers turning the pages . . . Zeh makes it easy to suspend disbelief in this cold-blooded and macabre future.”
—Publishers Weekly

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