Sandy Mulligan is in trouble. To escape his turbulent private life and the scandal that's maimed his public reputation, he's retreated from Brooklyn to the quiet Michigan town where he hopes to finish his long-overdue novel. There, he becomes fascinated by John Salteau, a native Ojibway storyteller who regularly appears at the local library.
But Salteau is not what he appears to be -- a fact suspected by Kat Danhoff, an ambitious Chicago reporter of elusive origins, who arrives to investigate a theft from a nearby Indian-run casino. Salteau's possible role in the crime could be the key to the biggest story of her stalled career. Bored, emotionally careless, and sexually reckless, Kat's sudden appearance in town immediately attracts a restive Sandy.
As the novel weaves among these characters, uncovering the conflicts and contradictions between their stories, we learn that all three are fugitives of one kind of another, harboring secrets that threaten to overturn their invented lives and the stories they tell to spin them into being. In their growing involvement, each becomes a pawn in the others' games -- all of them just one mistake from losing everything.
Moving, funny, tense, and mysterious, The Fugitives is at once a love story, a ghost story, and a crime thriller. It is also a cautionary tale of twenty-first-century American life -- a meditation on the meaning of identity, on the role storytelling plays in our understanding of ourselves and each other, and on the difficulty of making genuine connections in a world that's connected in almost every way.
"The language of The Fugitives is at once remarkable, startling and invisible. I was completely sucked into the worlds of these characters. It takes a master to make me forget I'm holding a book. Well, I forgot that for more than 300 pages. Brilliant."
— Percival Everett, author of Erasure and I Am Not Sidney Poitier
“A powerful and fiercely unsentimental novel that blazes past all the well-worn pieties about love and loss and leaves them in ashes.”
— Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation and Last Things
"Elegantly constructed...satisfying. Given that big novels often seem to warrant attention just for their size, it is its own kind of daring for an author to aim for the understated, the concise and the perfectly joined. Like one of Nanabozho’s simple, spare tales, Sorrentino’s novel might be a little deceptive because it disguises its complexity. Those tricked by Nanabozho or Sorrentino are guilty of not listening closely enough. The trickster is a cunning storyteller, as is Sorrentino...He also delivers what any reader of a thriller would expect."
--Viet Thanh Nguyen, The New York Times Book Review
"The Fugitives, rife with Sorrentino's dark wit and acute cultural observations, does not disappoint."
-- Dana Spiotta, BOMB
"At the heart of Christopher Sorrentino's stunning new novel is a storyteller…The Fugitives is neither an experimental high-wire act nor a plodding whodunit but something in between, an entirely new kind of novel with exceptional interior monologues animated by deception, double-dealing and a doomed affair that lends an air of existential dread to the story… Once the novel moves into high gear, Sorrentino adopts an omniscient point of view…to propel the story to its spectacular finish. . . a cautionary tale for anyone considering the implications of getting married, having an affair, writing a novel, or moving to the country in the service of one's art. Or it would if Sorrentino's electric prose and mordant wit didn't tap into the secret desire we all have from time to time to shed our skin and start over."
--Jim Ruland, Los Angeles Times
"...a dynamic and enigmatic tapestry of cross-pollinated genres populated by some terrifically drawn and profoundly unreliable narrators...Sorrentino brings a pristine beauty to every multiple subterfuge, while delivering scene after scene with near surgical precision. His pacing is immediate, deliberate, and simultaneously sidereal. The Fugitives is effortlessly expansive, finely crafted, and an absolute pleasure to read."
-- Donald Breckenridge, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Generating psychological and cultural insights as bright and stinging as a welder’s sparks, Sorrentino blasts insidious commercialism and corruption, digital narcosis, and the failures of the book and newspaper worlds, while detonating hollow notions of authenticity, ethics, and freedom. A mischievously funny, keenly incisive, and mind-bending outlaw tale.”
-- Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
"Smart and mordant...Sorrentino has found in the dubiously flexible terms of twenty-first century identity a subject fit for his high-powered postmodern style: the pyrotechnics of everyone lying their asses off...Bullshit is the only system [the characters] know...The Fugitives is a novel of that system: it shows us what we're all stuck inside...brilliantly cranky."
--James Camp, Bookforum
"Wild yet subtle...Sorrentino assays a wide range of approaches, pushing envelopes of genre till his fingers poke through...Overall it was a joy to watch these Fugitives scamper...This novel snowballs. The miracle is in how it brings this off, always articulate and closely observed. Sorrentino never shortchanges his acuity...indeed the most heroic fugitive in The Fugitives may be the open-ended art of story itself, once more the shape-shifting Trickster."
-- John Domini, Philadelphia Inquirer
"...smartly conceived...a thriller, though more Richard Russo than Robert Ludlum; it’s about ruses and masks and our desire to be something other than our imperfectible selves...Thoughtful but full of action—and a pleasing entertainment, too."