A Disorder Peculiar to the Country

  • by Ken Kalfus
  • Narrated by James Boles
  • 8 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Joyce and Marshall Harriman are in the midst of a contentious divorce, but still sharing a cramped, over-mortgaged Brooklyn apartment with their two children. On the morning of September 11, Joyce departs for Newark to catch a flight to San Francisco, and Marshall, after dropping the kids at daycare, heads for his office in the World Trade Center. She misses her flight and he's late for work, but on that grim day, in a devastated city, among millions seized by fear and grief, each thinks the other is dead, and each is secretly, shamefully, gloriously happy. As their bitter divorce is further complicated by anthrax scares, suicide bombs, foreign wars, and the stock-market collapse, they suffer, in ways unexpectedly personal and increasingly ludicrous, the many strange ravages of our time.
In this astonishing black comedy, Kalfus suggests how our nation's public calamities have encroached upon our most private illusions.

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What the Critics Say



2006 National Book Award Finalist
"My inner idealist hopes Kalfus' novel joins the ranks of Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 on the required reading lists." (Philadelphia Magazine)
"Kalfus' new novel [is] like a fever dream of recent events....Through the interbleeding of public and private story lines and his lampooning approach, Kalfus [is] freeing the way we think about September 11....If hyperbole can be weaponized anywhere in literature, it is here." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Divorce: 9/11 Style

Kalfus weaves a darkly hilarious tale of a dying marriage set post 9/11 against the backdrop of Ground Zero. I enjoyed the deliberate reading by James Boles, which sometimes added to the author's wry humor. The story of Marshall and Joyce's divorce strives for analogy, to depict a microcosm of the paranoid, intolerant, inept, and violent new order of the reawoken world. In many ways it succeeds, and in one scene in which a loosey-goosey house party morphs into an eerily creepy parody evocative of the terrible high jinks uncovered at Abu Graib Prison, it is jarringly affective. I recommend this audio book to any fans of say George Saunders, T. C. Boyle, et. al., who enjoy a hearty laugh at the expense of some serious material.
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- Michael Jones

stunning surprise

This is a stunning book. I purchased it on the blurb alone, knowing virtually nothing about the author. It is a very poignant, messy tale of a couple in disarray, in the middle of a great divorce, and a country that is about to be torn apart by terrorism. The manner in which the author melds these two themes and makes us care for his characters, who sometimes do despicable things, is nothing short of brilliant.
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- John

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-15-2007
  • Publisher: Audio Evolution