LONGLISTED FOR THE 2014 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE 2014 LA TIMES BOOK PRIZE, ART SEIDENBAUM AWARD FOR FRST FICTION
Welcome to Trace Italian, a game of strategy and survival! You may now make your first move.
Isolated by a disfiguring injury since the age of seventeen, Sean Phillips crafts imaginary worlds for strangers to play in. From his small apartment in southern California, he orchestrates fantastic adventures where possibilities, both dark and bright, open in the boundaries between the real and the imagined. As the creator of 'Trace Italian' — a text-based, role-playing game played through the mail — Sean guides players from around the world through his intricately imagined terrain, which they navigate and explore, turn by turn, seeking sanctuary in a ravaged, savage future America.
Lance and Carrie are high school students from Florida, explorers of the Trace. But when they take their play into the real world, disaster strikes, and Sean is called to account for it. In the process, he is pulled back through time, tunneling toward the moment of his own self-inflicted departure from the world in which most people live.
Brilliantly constructed, Wolf in White Van unfolds in reverse until we arrive at both the beginning and the climax: the event that has shaped so much of Sean's life. Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle's audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy.
PRAISE FOR JOHN DARNIELLE
'John Darnielle has established himself as a writer of great empathy and thrilling rawness, a singular talent whose work inspires feverish devotion [and] the transition from writing lyrics to fiction has proved an unusually seamless one' The Sunday Age
'John Darnielle is a great songwriter, tipping light toward every kind of human suffering, and his powers are on full display in Wolf in White Van. The prose lives like Sean's imagination: a breathing, glowing thing. In Darnielle's novel, as in his songs, the monstrously true and unbelievably beautiful press up against one another. Together, they begin to dance.' npr.org