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You Deserve Nothing [Kindle Edition]

Alexander Maksik
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Set in an international high school in Paris, YOU DESERVE NOTHING is told in three voices: that of Will, a charismatic young teacher who brings ideas alive in the classroom in a way that profoundly affects his students; Gilad, one of Will's students who has grown up behind compound walls in places like Dakar and Dubai, and for whom Paris and Will's senior seminar are the first heady tastes of freedom; and Marie, the beautiful, vulnerable senior with whom, unbeknowst to Gilad, Will is having an illicit affair.

Utterly compelling, brilliantly written, YOU DESERVE NOTHING is a captivating tale about teachers and students, of moral uncertainties and the coming of adulthood. It heralds the arrival of a brilliant new voice in fiction.

Product Description


'One of the most engaged reads I've had in years. YOU DESERVE NOTHING is that rare and fearless debut novel that feels like anything but.' (Alice Sebold, author of THE LOVELY BONES)

'Alexander Maksik's YOU DESERVE NOTHING is a bracing, challenging, enthralling debut. It is a novel that rings true from first page to last, refusing the false notion of easy choices, inhabiting, rather, the moral maze of lived life. Here is a gifted writer who understands why the artful telling of a difficult story is a brave and important thing to do. Read this book.' (John Burnham Schwartz author of THE COMMONER and RESERVATION ROAD)

'A provocative, constantly surprising, and original novel written with precision and grace. Maksik is unflinching in his exploration of the sexual awakening of the young, and the moral complexity of adulthood. This is a thrilling debut.' (Susanna Moore, author of IN THE CUT)

'The best stories are by nature confrontational, implicitly asking readers to assess their own lives and assumptions, asking readers not only what they might do in difficult situations but more so what they are doing daily and what it all means. By this yardstick, Alexander Maksik's first novel, You Deserve Nothing, is a thoroughly engaging, passionate, and challenging read that finely walks the line between morality and amorality. In a society, and at a time, when individual identity is so closely tied to collective narcissism, Maksik's novel asks what are the true sources of self-worth? And how shall we live?' (Tom Jenks, editor, Narrative magazine)

Alexander Maksik deftly evokes the beauty and pathos of Paris. The story of Will, Gilad and Marie, each compelled towards his or her own moral and sexual awakening, is at once dark and luminous. This is a book to be read all at once with a glass of wine in a cafe or a cup of tea while tucked safely in bed (A.M. Homes)

YOU DESERVE NOTHING is a powerful, absorbing novel and Alexander Maksik is an unusually gifted writer (Tom Perrotta Author of Little Children, Election and The Leftovers)


'One of the most engaged reads I've had in years' -- Alice Sebold 'A hugely satisfying and thought-provoking novel...There are echoes of The Secret History but You Deserve Nothing may be even more immediately appealing' -- Daily Mail 'Just the right amount of melancholy and, yes, even romance' -- Daily Telegraph 'Deftly evokes the beauty and pathos of Paris...This is a book to be read all at once with a glass of wine in a cafe or a cup of tea while tucked safely in bed' -- A.M. Homes 'Rivetingly plotted and beautifully written' -- New York Times 'You Deserve Nothing ... reminds the reader how powerful ideas and literature can be - not just by creating a memorably complex character in Will, but with some stunning prose of its own as well' -- Independent on Sunday 'Superb' -- Sunday Times 'A provocative, constantly surprising, and original novel written with precision and grace. [A] thrilling debut' -- Susanna Moore 'A gorgeous, troubling, unflinching book, as honest and rich a depiction of life's contradictions as I've encountered in many years' -- Ben Fountain 'An extraordinary read' -- Red Magazine 'An extraordinary read' -- Red Magazine

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2017 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (15 Sept. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005HVR9GA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #207,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Alexander Maksik is the author of the novels You Deserve Nothing and A Marker to Measure Drift, named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2013.

His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Nonrequired Reading, Harper's, Tin House, Harvard Review, Condé Nast Traveler (where he is a contributing editor), The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Salon and Narrative Magazine, among other publications and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is the recipient of fellowships from the Truman Capote Literary Trust and The Corporation of Yaddo.

Twitter: @AlexanderMaksik

Instagram: @AlexanderMaksik

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly insightful 2 Aug. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I thought this was a fantastic book. I wouldn't normally have bothered with it because I didn't like the sound of it at all - it has an off-putting title, it is set among wealthy teenagers in an American International School and has a plot synopsis which sounds like Dead Poets Society written by a French existentialist - but I am lucky that a friend whose judgement I trust recommended it to me. It turned out to be one of the best-written, most thoughtful and most intellectually and emotionally engaging books I have read for a long time, and I found myself as gripped by it as by a really good thriller.

The story is of an inspirational teacher and his relationships with his students. Alexander Maksik manages to make this both fresh and enthralling. He tells the story through three first-person narratives, the teacher himself and two of his students, one male and one female. All three voices are brilliantly done: distinctive, convincing and with real insight into their characters, and every character in the book is wholly believable. I thought he showed exceptional insight into the sheer thrill of being an inspiring teacher and into being a thoughtful 17-year-old with that nagging sense that other people have the answers but you don't. What really makes the book stand out, though, is the way the characters wrestle with ideas, idealism, the tension between what you want to be and what you find you can be, and the difference between our public faces and private interiors. I found this utterly riveting and extremely moving in places.

The prose is excellent. It is readable, unfussy and unpretentious, and sometimes very affecting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The power of words and the weakness of actions 2 Sept. 2011
By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There's a lot to like about Alexander Maksik's first novel - the clean economy of the writing, interesting characters that are explored in depth in an intensely driven storyline that switches in perspective between three people at an American school in Paris for the children of rich diplomats and ex-patriots. At the centre of this triangle is an inspirational teacher of literature, William Silver, the kind of teacher that young impressionable people gravitate towards as he opens their eyes to a new and exciting way of looking at the world. There is a difference however between how he is perceived by young seventeen year-old loner Gilad - who has been shuttled from one international city to another for much of his life - and how he is perceived by Marie, a naively excitable young student who intends to follow-up a crush on the handsome teacher. There's also a difference of perception between how they see Mr Silver and how he sees his relationship with them, and in those differences there is inevitably going to be disappointment and potentially even more serious consequences.

The inspirational teacher who proves to be not necessarily flawed as much as revealed to be as human as anyone else, is nothing new in literature or cinema, so if there is any corresponding disappointment with the reader and the expectations they have with You Deserve Nothing in this respect, well, that somehow fits with the nature of the novel and its dealing with unreasonable expectations.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair to middling... 29 Feb. 2012
In the blurb at the front this author is compared to J.D.Salinger, Ian McEwan, Martin Amis, Donna Tartt and others but I can't help feeling that this list should merely be used as a guide to who this writer aspires to, as I certainly wouldn't put him in the same class as these luminaries of fiction. I found the whole thing a poor man's 'Dead Poet's Society' interspersed with a rather unbelievable romance between pupil and teacher that seemed entirely superficial and cliched to the nth degree. The only parts of the book I found remotely interesting were some of the existential discussions between the affirmation seeking teacher and his pupils in relation to certain texts they were studying but I had no real empathy, or indeed any kind of emotional connection to any of the characters. I felt that the atmosphere of Paris was quite well-drawn, and this along with the discussions previously mentioned raised this from a 2* to a 3* review. Probably not an author that I would seek out again...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting psychological study 10 Sept. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a story based around an affair between a schoolteacher (Will) and a student at his school (Marie), told from the perspective of Will, Marie and Gilad (another student who is oblivious to the affair, but provides a different perspective on Will.

My initial impression was that the writing was competent, but the story and characters a little dull. The equivalent of reading a story about a celebrity in Vanity Fair while you are waiting in the dentist's office. I was spectacularly unengaged by the characters, who all seemed a bit whiny and monotonous. And then on page 117 something happens, and the story suddenly starts to gain pace. It is really vry cleverly written, and the sort of story where much more is revealed by what is not said than what is said. The author is well aware of this, and even has a few pages where Will and his students discuss the lens of the reader. I found myself actually caring about these characters, and wondering about their unvoiced thoughts. In fact, I got so sucked into the story, that I couldn't put it down, and finished it the very same day.

So... From my perspective, it gets off to a slow start, but is ultimately subtle and gratifying. A few of the smaller characters are caricatures (the head teacher being a particularly amusing example), but this doesn't detract from the story. A good read, if you are interested in human nature and character motivations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended reading!!
I was hooked throughout! Bold, realistic and moving. I expected a typical run of the mill romantic drama but this was better!
Published 20 months ago by Charlotte
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Summer Read
Set in the ISF, an international school in Paris, the book is told from the viewpoint of Will, a teacher at the school & two pupils Marie & Gilad. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Lorna
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
We read this in our book group, it was an interesting one as it divided the group, people tended to love it or hate it.
Published on 17 Feb. 2013 by Blackbags
5.0 out of 5 stars You Deserve Nothing
A story of romance and passion told in a wonderful detailed story. Summer in Paris, Douglas Kennedy at his best
Published on 13 Feb. 2013 by williampendry
1.0 out of 5 stars written
Didn't connect with this book ,read it very quickly which is unusual for me though it gave good discussion at book club
Published on 22 Sept. 2012 by Mr. R. F. Bailey
3.0 out of 5 stars Some mixed feelings
Quite an enjoyable read - loved the Paris setting, but began to dislike Will, the central protagonist, more and more: shades of "Dead Poet's Society" (without the endearing... Read more
Published on 19 Sept. 2012 by Betty Blue
1.0 out of 5 stars Disgusting
I went to this school and know that although this story is supposed to be fiction, it is based on the author's relationship with one of the pupils (although there were others... Read more
Published on 1 Aug. 2012 by Girl
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed - some great bits, but somehow not quite 'there'
This was a book club read and I probably wouldn't otherwise have tried it because the plot sounds a bit cliche and the outcome is surely predictable: following a teacher and... Read more
Published on 26 May 2012 by Holly
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, watch out for this author
Over the last five or six decades I have had a habit of reading first novels. Indeed, at one time I read ONLY first time novels. Read more
Published on 21 May 2012 by S2b an OAP
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't finish it
This book has been compared to Donna Tartt's The Secret History, described by one reviewer as 'more accessible'. Read more
Published on 20 May 2012 by Amazon Customer
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