Thu 5/1 7pm – 8pm
Alena Graedon discusses her novel The Word Exchange
In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are things of the past, and we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but also have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . .
"Alena Graedon's spectacular debut is a story for
our age of 'accelerated obsolescence.' A genuinely scary and funny
mystery about linguistic slippage and disturbance, it's also a moving meditation
on our sometimes comic, sometimes desperate struggles to speak, and to listen,
and to mean something to one another. To borrow Graedon's own invention, The
Word Exchange is 'Synchronic' -- a gorgeous genre mashup that offers
readers the pleasures of noir, science fiction, romance and philosophy. It's an
unforgettable joyride across the thin ice of language."
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove