Author Joe Meno, his book BOOK OF EXTRAORDINARY TRAGEDIES, and conversation partners Jerry Stahl, Margaret Wappler, and Manny Nieto

Book of Extraordinary Tragedies (Akashic Books)

From the best-selling author Joe Meno, a moving novel about the impossibility of fate and family

Aleksandar and Isobel are siblings and former classical music prodigies, once destined for greatness. As the only Eastern European family growing up on their block on the far southside of Chicago, the pair were inseparable until each was forced to confront the absurdity of tragedy at an early age and abandon their musical ambitions.

Now in their twenties, they find themselves encountering ridiculous jobs, unfulfilling romantic relationships, and the outrageousness of ordinary life. Doomed by fate, a family history of failure, an odd mother, an absent father, and a younger brother with a peculiar fondness for catastrophes, the two siblings have all but given up.

But when an illness forces Isobel and her three-year-old daughter to move back into the family home, Aleks becomes deeply involved in the endless challenges that surround his relatives. Once Isobel begins playing cello again, Aleks comes to see a world of possibility and wonder in the lives of his extraordinarily complicated family.

Told in Aleks's exuberant voice, and full of as much comedy as tragedy, this entertaining novel asks, Is it ever truly possible to separate our fates from those we've come to love?

Joe Meno is a fiction writer and journalist who lives in Chicago. Winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a finalist for the Story Prize, Meno is the best-selling author of several novels and short story collections including Marvel and a Wonder, The Great Perhaps, The Boy Detective Fails, and Hairstyles of the Damned. He is a professor in the English and Creative Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Jerry Stahl has written ten books, including the best-selling memoir Permanent Midnight, made into a movie with Ben Stiller; the essay collection OG Dad; and the novels Pain Killers; I, Fatty; Perv; Plainclothes Naked; Happy Mutant Baby Pills; and Bad Sex on Speed. A Pushcart Prize–winning author, Stahl’s work has appeared in Esquire, Vice, the Believer, Tin House, Los Angeles Review of Books, and the New York Times, among other places. He has written extensively for film and television, including HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn, which earned a Writers Guild Award nomination; Bad Boys II; and the cult classic Dr. Caligari; series credits include Maron, CSI, and Escape at Dannemora, for which he received an Emmy nomination. Stahl’s writing has been widely translated, and he has taught with the InsideOUT Writers program for incarcerated youth, edited The Heroin Chronicles for Akashic Books, and participated in the documentary series, San Quentin Film School. He has two daughters, and lives with artist Zoe Hansen. Nein, Nein, Nein! is his latest book.

Margaret Wappler has written about the arts and pop culture for several publications, including Rolling StoneElleNew York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. Her 2016 novel Neon Green was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. She's currently at work on a biography of Luke Perry, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster. She lives in Los Angeles.

Manny Nieto is a Los Angeles native and lead singer/guitarist in the bands Distortion Felix and Chavez Ravine. He is the proprietor of Suplex Audio, and has been recording bands for more than two decades, including The Breeders, Los Lobos, Health, and many more.

Praise for Book of Extraordinary Tragedies -

"As in all his tender and edgy fiction, Meno's poetic prose is infused with sweet compassion and sharp protest as he marvels over 'the beautiful failure of all human beings struggling against their own glorious mistakes' while, somehow, finding a way forward." --Booklist, starred review

" D]espite the long odds stacked against his characters, Meno keeps their story buoyant . . .They're hopelessly optimistic in their own twisted way . . . What this story gets so right is how so many of us live in the past and the present all at once." --Chicago Reader

"Joe Meno writes with a humor and tenderness that sometimes doesn't feel made for this bleak hour of history . . . Or. Maybe it's exactly what we need right now? . . . Meno reminds us that though family's do, in fact, fuck you up, sometimes they're the only thing that can put you back together." --Lit Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2022

Event date: 
Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Book of Extraordinary Tragedies By Joe Meno Cover Image
ISBN: 9781636140605
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Akashic Books - September 6th, 2022