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A Naked Singularity by [De La Pava, Sergio]
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A Naked Singularity Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Length: 690 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

'Crime and Punishment as reimagined by the Coen Brothers' The Millions. (Millions)

'A fine encyclopedic romp in the Joyce / Pynchon / Wallace tradition' Miles Klee, The Notes. (Notes)

'A great American novel: large, ambitious, and full of talk' Alex Good, Toronto Star. (Toronto Star)

'Ambitious, affecting, intelligent, plangent, comic, kooky and impassioned. I've read a lot of novels this year, between judging the Man Booker prize and the Granta Best of Young British Novelists, and I've yearned for this kind of exuberant, precise fiction' Stuart Kelly, Guardian. (Guardian)

'If you like 'The Wire', if you like rewarding, difficult fiction, if you like literary, high-quality artistic and hilarious yet moving novels that are difficult to put down, I can't recommend A Naked Singularity enough' Scott Bryan Wilson, The Quarterly Conversation. (Quarterly Conversation)

'A propulsive, mind-bending experience ... a thrilling rejoinder to the tidy story arcs portrayed on television and in most crime fiction' Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal. (Wall Street Journal)

'Casi's voice is astonishing, cynical but compassionate, alive to the ridiculous and the pitiful and the horrific but never losing its commitment to morality' Lian Hearn. (Lian Hearn)

'Like 'The Wire' written by Voltaire ... Unputdownable' Robert Collins, Sunday Times. (Sunday Times)

From the Inside Flap

Casi is a 24-year-old public defender working on the front line of America's War on Drugs. So far he's on the winning side. He's never lost a case. But nothing lasts forever, and pride like his has a long way to fall. Funny, smart and always surprising, A Naked Singularity speaks a language all of its own and reads like nothing else ever written. In De La Pava's hands, the labyrinthine miseries of the New York Justice System are as layered and diabolical as Dante's nine circles of Hell. But the Devil doesn't hog the best lines. There are plenty here to go around.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 5436 KB
  • Print Length: 690 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press (22 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B83POGI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #178,623 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'Precision in language is the most critical of human endeavors.'

I disagree with those who say this huge novel was in need of a strict editor. It's precisely the sprawl of it that appeals, allowing witty detours into everything from boxing to theology. Dazzling language and all sorts of philosophical thinking sit alongside the plot – successful young lawyer finally loses a case, plans perfect crime, and tries to save a man on death row. It's clever and funny, but warm too – not a cold postmodern experiment. The scenes with Casi's family are warm and moving. There's so much in it – such richness – that it's definitely a book that would be worth reading twice. The author delights in the use of language and the exploration of ideas. The dialogue is sparklingly witty. And what seem like digressions are arguably just as important as everything else. A masterpiece.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is narrated by a public defender named Casi - and there's a story in his name as well, but I digress. Casi , the child of Colombian immigrants, is a public defender. In between sharing his thoughts on many different topics - including the existence of God, boxing and how to make empanadas, he works on the cases of the accused - all of who appear to be guilty - who come through his office. Casi has never lost a case - so far.

`Everyone has to lose eventually.'

Casi is also working pro bono on a death penalty case involving a client named Jalen Kingg. And, when he goes home, his downstairs neighbours are working on some interesting psychological experiments of their own. Then Casi gets caught up in something else: the other side of crime. The majority of the novel is in dialogue, and the early part is mostly focussed on Casi's interactions with the people he's been assigned to defend, his appearances in the courtroom and his discussions with colleagues. As the story unfolds, with its numerous stories and with often amusing digressions, it becomes increasingly difficult to put it down. Part of the pleasure of reading is in not knowing what will happen next: even if an outcome seems clear there's nothing predictably linear about the path taken to reach it. This may be a crime novel/legal thriller (or is it?), but it's unique. The first half (roughly) of the novel could be heading almost anywhere - with its meandering sprawl, but then, when it becomes apparent where the novel is heading, the momentum increases.

It took me a while to appreciate Sergio De La Pava's writing style - I had to concentrate in order to make sense of the converging (and diverging) stories. But it was worth it.

'What we're headed for is what theorists call a naked singularity.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A Naked Singularity is a strange novel. It is narrated by Casi, a maverick and very junior defense attorney in New York state. Casi is of Colombian heritage and goes to some effort to conceal his last name. He has a distinctive voice that he uses both to discuss the minutiae of his life (creating a feeling of being "Almost There") and to depart into lengthy digressions.

Overall, the novel is very good, has an unusual feel and creates atmosphere well.

Remarkably, considering it has been shortlisted for the inaugural Folio Prize, A Naked Singularity was first released as a self-published novel. And in some ways it does show. Firstly, the novel is way too long. At 860 pages, the reader has long since got the basic idea and by the end, it does feel a bit like being beaten about the head by the same good ideas, over and over again. Speaking of being beaten about the head, there are lengthy sections about middleweight boxing. This might be an indication of Casi's non-white, non-middle class background or it might be an extended metaphor about people who hang on too long, but the boxing takes up way too many pages on what is basically straight biography. The pacing, too, is wrong with the plotty bit being compressed into a short piece near the middle, arriving way too late and finishing too soon, leaving pages and pages of psychobabble to wind up the novel.

These failings are obvious, but can be forgiven to some extent by the overall quality and feel of the novel. It does have a kind of crime/thriller element but it is so much more. The great length and enormous detail allow a study of a man and the seamy, slippery world he inhabits.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sergio de la Pava's painfully detailed study of the law in action amongst the underclass in New York is an insightful examination of court procedure and the conscience of the poor. Social and moral questions thread their way through the protracted dialogues between attorneys and clients. How can you defend a man who is a liar, a betrayer and a recidivist criminal? How and why? Well, Cassi, the more or less narrator believes it's his duty to do the best for his clients, selected mainly from the scum of society. He works frighteningly long hours with unpromising material for a derisory reward. He does his best in a hopeless situation, for drug enforcement laws are sacred in NYC. Society must be protected and criminal locked up for as long as possible.

As a novel this book is something of a disaster. Interminable speeches are interspersed with almost equally interminable dialogues, between client and attorney, between the attorneys themselves. Light relief, if that's what it is, is offered by immaculate transcripts of judicial procedure. There is all the material for a fine novel here, a cri de coeur for something more sensible and humane in the justice system, but the pain of digging it out is as hard as Cassi's self-imposed daily torture.
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