Emperor of Shoes (Hanover Square Press)
This summer, Hanover Square Press will proudly publish Spencer Wise’s The Emperor of Shoes, a transfixing debut novel inspired by the author’s experiences living and working in an American-owned shoe factory in Guangdong, China.
Wise’s Boston-based family has been in the shoe business for generations. For the past 20 years his father has been in China designing shoes for the American market. In the summer of 2013, Wise lived and worked at the plant, interviewing workers and observing their dissatisfaction with a corrupt system. Around him factories closed, strikes broke out, and the government worked swiftly to shield any sense of unrest from the media.
From this raw material Wise has crafted an epic, propulsive, philosophically charged story about love, ambition and the push-pull effects of today’s globalized world. The novel follows Alex, a Jewish American ex-pat, as he reluctantly assumes the helm of his family’s shoe company. When he meets a seamstress named Ivy, she shifts his gaze. But Ivy, who is also an embedded pro-democracy organizer, has broader aims, and Alex must decide where his loyalty resides, a choice which ultimately pushes the entire factory to a crisis point.
Praise for Emperor of Shoes
"Part love story, part father-son fable, part dark initiation, this powerful debut novel wonderfully brings into focus the ways we are all interconnected in a complex and global world."—Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Orphan Master's Son
“A funny, illuminating page turner. Wise shows us factory life and politics, ultimately pointing us in the direction of the possibility for a better future."—Bethany Ball, author of What to Do About the Solomons
"The most complex, nuanced, character-rich first novel I have ever read."—Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
Born in Boston, Spencer Wise is a graduate of Tufts University and the University of Texas at Austin. He recently won the 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in nonfiction. His work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Florida Review, and New Ohio Review. Wise teaches at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee.
Photo by Molly Hamill