In the style of Margaret Atwood's The Year of the Flood, Dave Eggers' The Circle, and The Walking Dead: a post-apocalyptic examination of nostalgia, loss and the possibility of starting over.
Allow us to introduce you to the newest product from PINA, the world's largest tech company. "Port" is a curiously irresistible device that offers the impossible: space-time travel mysteriously powered by nostalgia and longing. Step inside a Port and find yourself transported to wherever and whenever your heart desires: a bygone youth, a dreamed-of future, the fabled past.
In the near-future world of Liz Harmer's extraordinary novel, Port becomes a phenomenon, but soon it is clear that many who pass through its portal won't be coming back--either unwilling to return or, more ominously, unable to do so. After a few short years, the population plummets. The grid goes down. Among those who remain is Marie, a thirty-something artist living in a small community of Port-resistors camping out in the abandoned mansions of a former steel town. As winter approaches the group considers heading south, but Marie clings to the hope that her long lost lover will one day return to the spot where he disappeared.
Meanwhile, PINA's corporate campus in California has become a cultish enclave of survivors. Brandon, the right-hand man to the mad genius who invented Port, decides to get out. He steals a car and drives north-east, where he hopes to find his missing mother. And there he meets Marie.
The Amateurs is a story of rapture and romance, and an astoundingly powerful debut about what happens when technology meets desire.
LIZ HARMER is working on a second novel, and a story collection, which was a finalist for the 2014 Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award. Her stories and essays have been published in The Malahat Review, PRISM, Grain, The New Quarterly, Little Brother and other journals. She won a National Magazine Award in Personal Journalism and was nominated for another NMA, both in 2014. She was longlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and a finalist for a Glimmer Train Prize, and was on the editorial board at echolocation between 2013 and 2015. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, where her mentor was Charles Foran. She has also studied with David Bezmozgis, Richard Greene, Robert McGill and Richard Bausch. Raised in Hamilton, Ontario, she now lives with her husband and their three young daughters in southern California.
“Harmer takes cues from Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy in this sharp debut, a cautionary tale of tech gone astray.” —Toronto Life
“In her near perfect debut novel, Liz Harmer taps into current anxieties about technology to explore themes of transcendence, post-urbanity, and survival. . . . Harmer’s prose and pacing are elegant and precise, her characters distinct and engaging. . . . The novel’s dystopian setting is fully realized . . . nearly every conceivable question about the post-port world is addressed with grace and subtlety. . . . [The Amaterus] captivates right up to its final page.” —Quill & Quire
“[A] stunningly powerful work of post-apocalyptic fiction that examines our sense of reality and deals with the ultimate questions of where we came from and where we’re headed.” —The Hamilton Spectator
“Deeply original, The Amateurs is tense and fast-paced, exploring what happens when technology and desire meet in a world that doesn’t seem so different from ours.” —This Magazine
“The Amateurs is sly and smart, unsettled and unsettling, a bold probe into our age’s grand seduction. An astonishing debut by a dazzling new voice.” —Charles Foran