FINALIST FOR THE PEN/HEMINGWAY PRIZE FOR DEBUT FICTION In Jennifer duBois’s mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds. With uncommon perception and wit, duBois explores the power of memory, the depths of human courage, and the endurance of love.
NAMED BY THE NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION AS A 5 UNDER 35 AUTHOR • WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD GOLD MEDAL FOR FIRST FICTION • WINNER OF THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE
“Astonishingly beautiful and brainy . . . [a] stunning novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine “I can’t remember reading another novel—at least not recently—that’s both incredibly intelligent and also emotionally engaging.”—Nancy Pearl, NPR In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest: He launches a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win—and that he is risking his life in the process—but a deeper conviction propels him forward.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison struggles for a sense of purpose. Irina is certain she has inherited Huntington’s disease—the same cruel illness that ended her father’s life. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father wrote to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father asked the chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed in a lost cause?—but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Salon • BookPage Praise for A Partial History of Lost Causes “A thrilling debut . . . [Jennifer] DuBois writes with haunting richness and fierce intelligence. . . . Full of bravado, insight, and clarity.”—Elle “DuBois is precise and unsentimental. . . . She moves with a magician’s control between points of view, continents, histories, and sympathies.”—The New Yorker
“A real page-turner . . . a psychological thriller of great nuance and complexity.”—The Dallas Morning News
“Terrific . . . In urgent fashion, duBois deftly evokes Russia’s political and social metamorphosis over the past thirty years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Hilarious and heartbreaking and a triumph of the imagination.”—Gary Shteyngart