ELKOST International Literary Agency

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The House That...

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Rights sold to: Bulgaria - HERMES, Czech Republic - FRAGMENT, France – MONSIEUR TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE, Hungary – MAGVETO, Italy – SALANI, Latvia – JANIS ROZE, Macedonia - ANTOLOG, Poland - ALBATROS, Spain - EDHASA, Ukraine - KNIGOLOVE, World English - AMAZON CROSSING

2016 Lire Magazine Award for the best SiFi/Fantasy book (France)
2010 Russian Student Booker Award
2010 Russian Literary Award for the best novel
2010 NatsBest Literary Award nominee
2010 Russian Booker shortlist
2009 Big Book Russian National Literary Prize readers' open voting bronze-winner

 

 

The House That... is an extraordinary book, unexpected, fresh, of those which are impossible to put down. It is interesting that it has been published just now, when world literary trends are showing interest towards the enigmas of adolescence and the use of means far from pure realism to closely consider them. It is a current book but nothing transitory.

“The House” is the name given by the children and adolescents to the center for disabled minors they are residing, or rather interned in. The universe of The House has little, if anything, to do with that of outside; there within they've created laws, myths and their own rules, until nature itself has been become unique, independent. The resident pupils of The House haven't names, only nicknames, and are divided into groups, or better said, into packs or gangs, whose leaders fight to the death for supremacy. Their deficiencies are no more than a condition, almost a symbol, which establish their belonging to this other reality of their own design. Through the stories of various characters, the chapters separated in time, a panorama of the world of these youths has been created; limitless, fantastic, cruel, tender, completely isolated and cut-off from communication with the “real” world of the adults.

Focal points of Petrosyan’s novel are Friendship, adapting to the group, power, confrontation between the concepts of the individual freedom of the youths and the rules imposed by the educators, psychological growth, self-definition, choosing between “right” and “wrong”, love/sex/sexuality/sensuality..

The House That..., with no place for doubts, is a literary event which exceeds the borders of national literature. The work stands out with its harmony and fullness; all of the elements – language, rhythm, character development – are in perfect synchronization. The narration flows, envelopes, hypnotizes. The impact is profoundly emotional. Perhaps for this reason, difficulties arise at the hour to “explain” the work, the literary critics have had to turn to examples and have created a long list of “predecessors”: Salinger, Golding (Lord of the Flies), Faulkner (Light in August), Ken Kesey, Lewis Carroll, Ruben Gallego, Haruki Murakami, Philip K. Dick, John Steinbeck, etc. Rational, verbal resources come up short.

Petrosyan's award-winning debut novel ... is a wildly imaginative tale of epic proportions. The House, which sits overlooked on the outskirts of town, is a boarding school for disabled children and teenagers. Isolated from the Outsides, the residents of the House are enmeshed in a carefully constructed world of unspoken rules and thorny histories. The meandering narrative moves back and forth in time, alternating narrators and tenses, to paint an intricate portrait of a social order that appears ultimately dictated by an unknown force, understood by its inhabitants to be the House itself. When student deaths begin to pile up over the course of the narrative, readers can identify with newcomer Smoker as he tries to understand the mysteries of the House and the source of its power over its inhabitants. Petrosyan has created a painstakingly three-dimensional, fully inhabited world. Slowly but surely, the plot reveals itself through a gradual process of unraveling, leading readers down a sprawling rabbit hole of intrigue and mysteries, accompanied by a dizzying array of quirky denizens. Petrosyan's prose is wildly imaginative and beautifully wrought, overflowing in Machkasov's translation with rich sensory details that combine with an offbeat sense of humor to form a fully realized world. This dense, heady tale should be enjoyed by seasoned readers of literary fiction and magical realism. Although it is being marketed in the U.S. for teens, it will perhaps find its most natural audience among adult readers. An impressive—and impressively massive—feat of imagination and translation. - Kirkus Reviews

The titular house in Armenian writer Petrosyan’s massively absorbing and sometimes frustrating novel is a boarding school for physically disabled students on the outskirts of an unnamed town. The distinctly supernatural house is a three story “gigantic beehive” made up of dormitories, classrooms, and other less formal spaces, each with their own set of rules and secrets. The students—known only by nicknames bestowed upon them by their peers—divide themselves into tribes based on their assigned dormitories, and these close-knit groups work to uncover the mysteries of the house and its history while also trying to avoid war between the factions. Rich with startling details and vivid world building, the novel unfolds in alternating points of view as characters learn about how the house operates differently from the largely unknown world outsides and collectively wonder about what will happen after graduation, when they must reenter a world that they no longer know. Much of the novel consists of the students telling fairy tales to each other about the “Outsides” and what they know of the house’s past and their own place within it, building a personal mythology as a way of explaining the strange world in which they have found themselves. The witty dialogue, sharply drawn characters, and endlessly unfolding riddle of the house’s true nature buoy a narrative that sometimes seems as meandering as the hallways of the house itself, a series of entertaining anecdotes rather than a cohesive whole. But the intellectually and emotionally rewarding conclusion confirms this fantasy novel’s undeniable power. - The Publishers Weekly

The House That is a remarkable work. It’s a door leading to that new literature we all have been waiting for. – Dmitry Bykov, writer and literary critic.

The book is a brilliant and fanciful parable telling about other kids. – Yevgenia Ritz, literary critic.