A wry comic novel with an acerbic wit, A Hero of Our Time is a vicious takedown of superficial diversity initiatives and tech culture, with a beating heart of broken sincerity.
Osman Shah is a pitstop on his white colleague Olivia Robinson’s quest for corporate domination at AAP, an edutech startup determined to automate higher education.
Osman, obsessed by Olivia’s ability to successfully disguise ambition and self-interest as collectivist diversity politics, is bent on exposing her. Aided by his colleague turned comrade-in-arms Nena, who loathes and tolerates him in equal measure, Osman delves into Olivia's twisted past. But at every turn, he's stymied by his unfailing gift for cruel observation, which he turns with most ferocity on himself, without ever noticing what it is that stops him from connecting to anyone in his past or present. As Osman loses his grip on his family, Nena, and everything he thought was essential to his identity, he confronts an enemy who may simply be too good at her job to be defeated.
A Hero of Our Time cracks the veneer of well-intentioned race conversations in the West, dismantles cheery narratives of progress through tech and “streamlined” education, and exposes the venomous self-congratulation and devouring lust for wealth, power, and property that lurks beneath.
About the author
Naben Ruthnum won the Journey Prize for his short fiction, has been a National Post books columnist, and has written books and cultural criticism for the Globe and Mail, Hazlitt, and the Walrus. His crime fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Joyland, and his pseudonym Nathan Ripley's first novel will appear in 2018. Ruthnum lives in Toronto.
Advance Praise for A HERO OF OUR TIME
"Ruthnum’s language is graceful and hysterical—often in the same breath. His deft hand makes this sharp, propulsive skewering of corporate hypocrisy a rich read. ”
—Mayukh Sen, author, Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America
“Naben Ruthnum captures a side of modern employment and work culture that is so funny, so accurate and so specific—but somehow makes it feel incredibly universal. A Hero of Our Time made me laugh out loud and cringe, all while holding a mirror up to my own workplace experiences.”
—Sarah Hagi, writer
"A shot across the bow and a major literary achievement, A Hero of Our Time is the most relevant work of satire this country has produced in years. In Ruthnum's hands, the state of political discourse and the value of the education sector has never looked so etiolated or more deserving of a life preserver."
—Jean Marc Ah-Sen, author of In the Beggarly Style of Imitation
“Savage as A Hero of Our Time is, I’m not sure it can fairly be called satire. Naben Ruthnum’s assessment of corporate culture—and the academy, contemporary religion, the politics of identity, and so much more—is withering but honest. The novel nails so much about 21st century life; what can you do but laugh?”
—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind