State of Paradise: A Novel (Hardcover)

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"A brilliant ghost story and a profoundly moving and atmospheric meditation on place, memory, and the very nature of reality, where everything is truly not as it seems." —Mona Awad, author of Rouge

"A wholly original and epically engaging novel from a master of episodic oddity." —Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch

A heart-racing fun house of uncanniness hidden in Florida’s underbelly from the celebrated Laura van den Berg


Along with her husband, a ghostwriter for a famous thriller author returns to her mother's house in the Florida town where she grew up. As the summer heat sets in, she wrestles with family secrets and memories of her own troubled youth. Her mercurial sister, who lives next door, spends a growing amount of time using MIND’S EYE, a virtual reality device provided to citizens of the town by ELECTRA, a tech company in South Florida, during the doldrums of a recent pandemic. But it’s not just the ominous cats, her mother’s burgeoning cult, or the fact that her belly button has become an increasingly deep cavern—something is off in the town, and it probably has to do with the posters of missing citizens spread throughout the streets.

During a violent rainstorm, the writer’s sister goes missing for several days. When she returns, sprawled on their mother’s lawn and speaking of another dimension, the writer is forced to investigate not only what happened to her sister and the other missing people but also the uncanny connections between ELECTRA, the famous author, and reality itself.

A sticky, rain-soaked reckoning with the elusive nature of storytelling, Laura van den Berg’s State of Paradise is an interlocking and page-turning whirlwind. With inimitable control and thrilling style, she reaches deep into the void and returns with a story far stranger than either reality or fiction.

About the Author


Laura van den Berg is the author of the story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, The Isle of Youth, and I Hold a Wolf by the Ears, which was named one the ten best fiction books of 2020 by TIME, and the novels Find Me and The Third Hotel, which was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and named a best book of 2018 by more than a dozen publications. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Strauss Living Award and a Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, a PEN/O. Henry Award, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and is a two-time finalist for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

Praise For…


"Entrancing . . . Van den Berg is a master at nudging the familiar world slightly off its axis . . . This off-kilter story is hard to forget." —Publishers Weekly

"Pitch perfect and exquisitely composed. Laura van den Berg is a gifted and audacious writer and she's written a novel of weight, power and beauty. I couldn't put it down." —Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown

"A brilliant ghost story and a profoundly moving and atmospheric meditation on place, memory, and the very nature of reality, where everything is truly not as it seems. With sharp, gripping prose, Laura van den Berg fearlessly conjures the fundamental wildness of being alive in the world as we know it, and the pull of the deeper wildness within." —Mona Awad, author of Rouge

"State of Paradise chronicles strange pandemic days, the rise of mindless electronic escape, and grief's otherworldly whims in a wholly original and epically engaging novel from a master of episodic oddity. I'll follow Laura van den Berg wherever she wants to take me, even Florida." —Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch

"Like a summer coastal storm, State of Paradise overtook me with its wildness and sorcery. I loved becoming entangled in it. The storytelling here is mind-dilating." —Ling Ma, author of Bliss Montage

"Van den Berg writes with unearthly beauty about the oddity of being, and the borderlands between despair and wonder." —C Pam Zhang, author of Land of Milk and Honey

"State of Paradise is deeply, thrillingly weird. With missing sisters, sinkholes, cults, and floods, the novel is as surprising and compelling as Florida itself. Laura van den Berg's brilliance is only further confirmed by every book she writes—this newest one will blow your mind." —Julia Phillips, author of Bear

"Laura van den Berg excavates the secrets and mysterious technological forces unraveling a family and a sleepy subtropical community with mind-bending, unsettling clarity and devastating resonance. A thrilling, cautionary portrait of Florida's surreal wildness, State of Paradise is an absolute knockout." —Patricia Engel, author of The Faraway World

"State of Paradise is a weird, wild, thrilling journey through cults, addiction, messed-up families, the pandemic, the weather, and the strangeness and beauty of the great state of Florida. Laura van den Berg's writing is razor sharp and full of depth and humor, and she has an incredible imagination. This book is freaking brilliant." —Jami Attenberg, author of All This Could Be Yours

"In State of Paradise, Laura van den Berg evokes a world and a family teetering on the edge of collapse. In her taut, precise prose, van den Berg juxtaposes global crises with personal ones. Amid a pandemic and Floridian super-storms, a family contends with a death and with past traumas. This innovative book is short but vast, an exquisite exploration of the ways we try to heal ourselves in the face of unbearable loss. State of Paradise is a mesmerizing new book from one of our boldest writers." —Helen Phillips, author of The Need



Product Details
ISBN: 9780374612207
ISBN-10: 037461220X
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: July 9th, 2024
Pages: 224
Language: English