-More impressive than all but a few novels published so far this decade . . . a wheeling meditation on the wired life, on privacy, on what being human in the age of binary code might mean . . . Joshua] Cohen, all of thirty-four, emerges as a major American writer.---The New York Times
The enigmatic billionaire founder of Tetration, the world's most powerful tech company, hires a failed novelist, Josh Cohen, to ghostwrite his memoirs. The mogul, known as Principal, brings Josh behind the digital veil, tracing the rise of Tetration, which started in the earliest days of the Internet by revolutionizing the search engine before venturing into smartphones, computers, and the surveillance of American citizens. Principal takes Josh on a mind-bending world tour from Palo Alto to Dubai and beyond, initiating him into the secret pretext of the autobiography project and the life-or-death stakes that surround its publication.
Insider tech expose, leaked memoir-in-progress, international thriller, family drama, sex comedy, and biblical allegory, Book of Numbers renders the full range of modern experience both online and off. Embodying the Internet in its language, it finds the humanity underlying the virtual.
Featuring one of the most unforgettable characters in contemporary fiction, Book of Numbers is an epic of the digital age, a triumph of a new generation of writers, and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.
Please note that Book of Numbers uses a special pagination system inspired by binary notation: the part number precedes the page number, and is separated from it by a decimal point.
Praise for Book of Numbers
-The Great American Internet Novel is here. . . . Book of Numbers is a fascinating look at the dark heart of the Web. . . . A page-turner about life under the veil of digital surveillance . . . one of the best novels ever written about the Internet.---Rolling Stone
-A startlingly talented novelist . . . His] deeply rewarding novel is about an online religion gone wrong--and its importance lies in the fact that nearly all of us in the modernized world are members of that faith, whether we know it or not.---The Wall Street Journal
-Remarkable . . . dazzling . . . Cohen's literary gifts . . . suggest that something is possible, that something still might be done to safeguard whatever it is that makes us human.---Francine Prose, The New York Review of Books
-A hugely ambitious novel set in the high-tech world of now . . . a verbal high-wire act, daring in its tones and textures: clever, poetic, fast-moving, deeply playful, filled with jokes, savvy about machines, wise about people, dazzling and engrossing.---Colm Toibin, The Guardian
-Joshua Cohen is the Great American Novelist. . . . Like Pynchon and Wallace, Cohen can write with tireless virtuosity about absolutely everything.---Adam Kirsch, Tablet
-A digital-age Ulysses.---The New York Times Book Review
-The next candidate for the Great American Novel . . . David Foster Wallace-level audacious.---Details
-A brilliant book.---The Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-30
- Reviewer: Staff
Like Pynchon's Bleeding Edge and Eggers's The Circle, Cohen's (Witz) latest is an ambitious and inspired attempt at the Great American Internet Novel. The narrator, Joshua Cohen, is a struggling writer whose debut effort was inauspiciously launched on Sept. 10, 2001. Deciding to "earn better money... at the expense of identity,” he agrees to ghostwrite the memoir of another Joshua Cohen, referred to as "Principal.” Principal is the secretive founder of Tetration, a tech company that has developed a revolutionary search engine and seeks to "equalize ourselves with data and data with ourselves.” Speaking to his ghostwriter in the first-person plural he leisurely relates the genesis and evolution of Tetration while sprinkling in a mixture of ominous epigrams ("All who read us are read,”), mystical musings, and "techsperanto,” the language of Silicon Valley. But Principal has another motive in sharing his story, one which forces his biographer to go into hiding, and offline, to complete his task. The novel maps the recent history of the Internet onto one of Western culture's oldest stories, the plague-filled wanderings of Moses and his fractious band of Israelites journeying toward the Promised Land. This allegorical element imposes just enough order on a saga as sprawling and unruly as the Web. A dense, thrilling, and occasionally perplexing work, Cohen's encyclopedic epic is about many things—language, art, divinity, narrative, desire, global politics, surveillance, consumerism, genealogy—but it is above all a standout novel about the Internet, humanity's "first mutual culture,” in which our identities are increasingly defined by a series of ones and zeroes. (June)