--Description--It's not easy for Chrysalis Moffat to tell the story of her life. The more closely she tries to set down the facts, the more she finds herself doubting them. Her father has been dead since she was ten; her mother has just succumbed to complications following plastic surgery. --Her bad brother Eddie returns to claim his inheritance and cunningly transforms the family house into the headquarters for a school of Tibetan Buddhism enlisting the help of trainee guru, Ralph. As the pair fleece credulous Californians of their cash, Chrysalis is drawn into a strange and compelling world: a realm of mind-blowing coincidences, obsessive gambling and mysterious siblings. --Sandra Newman has a marksman's skill for quick-fire dialogue, a passion for Byzantine plotting and a wicked sense of humour. But beneath the technical fireworks lies a brilliantly subtle understanding of human nature and our philosophical dilemmas. Is it Fate or Chance that dictates our lives? And who holds all the cards?
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Born in America but has lived in England for 15 years. She is a graduate of the UEA creative writing course, where she was considered by W. G. Sebald and Andrew Motion to be one of the most promising students.From Publishers Weekly:
Transforming that most pedestrian of documents-the business report-Newman has fashioned a first novel that is anything but by-the-numbers. Chrysalis Moffat, a South American orphan, has grown into a psychologically unstable young woman living alone in the California mansion of her adopted parents, both dead. Her brother, Eddie, "five foot seven inches of sheer depravity," returns from a slacker trip around the world towing a fake Buddhist guru named Ralph, and together they open the Tibetan School of Miracles in the run-down mansion, selling enlightenment to spiritually destitute Californians. But this is just the first in a series of clever false fronts presented by this sprawling, globe-trotting novel, which hops from California to Colorado, Cairo to Kathmandu, exploring Chrysalis's and Eddie's messy lives and the source of their rampant dysfunctionality. Was their father in the CIA? What, exactly, was he doing in South America when he adopted Chrysalis? And what does all this have to do with the world of professional blackjack players? The novel is full of false turns, fake names and jaw-dropping coincidences, all slotted neatly together in Newman's blunt, wry prose. The periodic forays into report format give the narrative a stripped-down authority ("1. My mother died of complications following liposuction surgery. 1.1 A mild heart attack; pneumonia; septicemia. 1.2 Long-term alcoholism was the root cause") and giddy chapter headings ("Dave Something Scottish," "A Battle Between the Forces of Good and Evil"). This is a virtuoso performance, and if it sometimes reads like parody-wallowing in cancer, suicide, incest, mental illness-it more than proves Newman a writer worth watching.
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