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  • Published: 1 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9781787333406
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $29.99

Defenestrate




An exquisitely assured, funny, surprising and unusually original debut novel about a twin brother and sister, whose family is doomed to fall

A wildly inventive, exhilarating debut about a young woman confronting her ancestors' "falling curse" and trying to keep her own family from falling apart.

Marta and her twin brother Nick have always been haunted and fascinated by an ancestral legend that holds that members of their family are doomed to various types of falls. And when their own family falls apart in the wake of a revelation about Nick and a resulting devastating fight with their Catholic mother, the twins move to Prague, the city in which their "falling curse" began. There Marta and Nick try to forge a new life for themselves. But their ties to the past and each other prove difficult to disentangle, and when they ultimately return to their midwestern home and Nick falls from a window himself, Marta is forced to confront the truths she's hidden from herself and her twin.

Through this poignant, exuberant exploration of all the ways there are to fall-from defenestration in nineteenth century Prague to the pratfalls of their childhood idol Buster Keaton, from falling in love to falling midflight from an airplane-Defenestrate is a stunning and deeply original debut. Grappling with family myths, sexual repression, and mental illness, Renee Branum shows us how stories reveal and conceal life's secrets and how they affect one particular family as they try to protect one another from their true history.

  • Published: 1 February 2022
  • ISBN: 9781787333406
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

Renee Branum

Renée Branum's stories and essays have appeared in several publications including The Georgia Review, Narrative Magazine, The Gettysburg Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has earned MFAs in Fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and Creative Nonfiction from the University of Montana. She was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Prose Fellowship in 2020. She currently lives in Cincinnati where she is pursuing a PhD in Fiction.

Praise for Defenestrate

Renée Branum writes with exceptional wisdom and tenderness about inheritance, obsession, and the power of storytelling as a means of understanding who we are. As family secrets are revealed, Defenestrate builds to a symphonic, exhilarating end that embraces uncertainty alongside the miracle of surviving the greatest of falls.

Sanaë Lemoine, author of THE MARGOT AFFAIR

Branum's prose lights up the imagination, every line a discovery and a pleasure. Beyond simple elegance or precision, she weaves sense and simile so stunningly, you have to throw your hands up and say "damn!" Defenestrate is both a transporting story, and a poetic reflection on family myths, death and danger, creation, self preservation, and the great free-fall of life. I was constantly thrilled by the beauty and insight of her words, and, at the same time, ever on the precipice of that titular drop, the one that's always just about to happen, the one we all know from childhood dreams

Dina Nayeri, author of THE UNGRATEFUL REFUGEE and REFUGE

The wonders of this beautiful novel come to you the way ghosts do, almost invisibly, and from the past. The voice is haunted too, by family secrets, the history of Prague, an addiction, and much else. But its central subject is that of falling-and everything that falling can imply. This is a fine and wonderful book.

Charles Baxter, author of THE SUN COLLECTIVE

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