Scotiabank Giller-winner Sean Michaels is back with his widely anticipated second novel, The Wagers, a deeply satisfying story of long odds, magical heists and the dizzying gamble of life. Where does luck come from? What is it worth? And how much of it do you need to be happy?
Theo Potiris is a grocer and a comedian who never repeats his jokes. After 15 years of open mics, he's still waiting for his break--bicycling to the comedy club at night, stacking plums at his family's grand and ramshackle supermarket by day. His girlfriend is halfway around the world, searching for enlightenment with a patron who happens to be the richest man on Earth, and when two other loved-ones get struck by bolts from the blue, Theo decides he can't keep chasing his old dreams any longer. He resolves to trade his wishes in, pursuing a bigger score.
Here Sean Michaels' novel takes a surprise left turn, away from the price of milk and into a shabby, beautiful, imaginary Montreal where peacocks strut on street corners and gamblers bet on sunny days. Theo uncovers a mysterious association of sports-obsessed mathematicians, The Rabbit's Foot, which is turning probability into riches, and the vigilante No Name Gang, who steal luck from those who have taken more than their fair share. Bursting with sheer story-telling pleasure and stylish prose, The Wagers carries you along on wave after wave of invention--a literary motorcycle chase that soon has you wondering about the randomness of good fortune and all the ways we choose to wage our lives.
SEAN MICHAELS is a novelist, short-story writer and critic. Born in Stirling, Scotland, and raised in Ottawa, he eventually settled in Montreal, where he founded the pioneering music blog Said the Gramophone. His award-winning writing has also appeared in The Observer, McSweeney's, The Guardian, Pitchfork, Maisonneuve, and The Globe and Mail. Sean's debut novel, Us Conductors, received the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the QWF Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was nominated for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, the International DUBLIN Literary Award, and (in translation) the Prix des libraires de Quebec. He enjoys cold water, warm madeleines and songs with colours in their titles.
One of CBC Books’s 20 Canadian books to read in September
One of Toronto Star’s 35 books to read in Fall 2019
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“This novel is like a literary fireworks display, an explosion of joke-filled energy that manages to be a novel of ideas, but one delivered as if it were a caper story. . . . I had more fun reading this book than I have with any other novel for a very long time.” —The Globe and Mail
“It might look like we’re being set up for a Marc Maron narrative: a brainy but unfocused comic scuffling on the margins, increasingly desperate, only to score an against-the-odds success in middle age. . . . Suffice to say that the idea of luck plays a central part, and that it takes the novel into speculative realms that will require a leap of faith on the reader’s part. It’s a leap most will be happy to make, such is the author’s deft hand and delightfully skewed world view.” —Montreal Gazette
“‘I like books that are like trap doors—you plunge into another tale and the book you think you’re reading abruptly becomes another book,’ Michaels says. The Wagers does this twice, before leaving a smile on your face and a Rihanna song stuck in your head. All we can hope for is the one-two-step of life, art and luck will work out so well for each of us, too.” —The Coast (Halifax)
“[A] thoughtful, offbeat novel. . . . Constantly fascinating.” —Kirkus Reviews
PRAISE FOR SEAN MICHEALS' GILLER-WINNING DEBUT, US CONDUCTORS:
“Us Conductors stretches its arms to encompass nearly everything—it is an immigrant tale, an epic, a spy intrigue, a prison confession, an inventor’s manual, a creation myth, and an obituary—but the electric current humming through its heart is an achingly resonant love story. Sean Michaels orchestrates his first novel like a virtuoso.” —Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Just as hard as it is to make a theremin sing so it is hard to pull off a novel like this. But Sean Michaels does it. Us Conductors bridges body and soul, science and art, and like theremin music, it’s of this world and magical at the same time.” —Ismet Prcic, author of Shards
“A fascinating novel! Told with grace and confidence, and in a finely wrought voice, Us Conductors kept surprising me to the end. Throughout the story, the themes of love and music sing like the pure, ethereal notes of the theremin.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of the The Snow Child
“Michaels’s voice will pass through you like live current and conduct you to parts unknown.” —Carl Wilson, author of Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste
“An amazing, addictive novel, written with a sharp sense of rhythm.” —Nicolas Dickner, author of Nikolski