Illustrations by Michael Hafftka
September 22, 2023 / 1,188 pages
ISBN 9798218272203 Paperback / $39.99
Twenty years in the making, Michael Brodsky's opus, Invidicum, is a sprawling satirical novel about an experimental drug for "Envy Disease" (with some surprising off-label uses) and those involved in its clinical trials: participants, drug developers, psychiatrists, technicians, advertisers, hangers-on, etc. Brodsky states, "I think this book is my 'richest.' It did start out . . . propelled by a preposterous desire to write something more accessibleto achieve a breakthrough.”
Click here to view or download a preview of Invidicum (143 KB PDF).
"'Wordflow' is the self-conscious narrator's term for his literary mode in this massive novel, and indeed the reader is swept up in Brodsky's rushing river of prose while following the half-dozen bobbing test subjects of an 'anti-Envy drug,' themselves flailing in their individual streams of consciousness. The kayaking narrator stirs wordplay into his wordflow, along with the flotsam and jetsam of his pan-cultural erudition, and sticks his oar into Big Pharma, pornography, and political controversies of the last three decadesending with the Trump catastrophe. Envy (Latin invidia, hence the title) has been a literary theme since Cain and Abel, and in his epic treatment of this common failing, Brodsky has produced a ferocious tour de force. (And like Joseph McElroy's similar-sized Women and Men, it's a great novel about New York City.) Writers will be green with envy, and readers pink with pleasure at Brodsky's endlessly inventive language."
Steven Moore, author of The Novel: An Alternative History
"You know at once you are in the hands (the unrelenting grip) of a serious workman who reserves the right to amaze you several times on each page with sheer prose felicity."
Paul West, The New York Times Book Review
"He brings the reader to reflect anew on ways of knowing and truths of being in an uncertain world."
Harry Marten, The New York Times Book Review
"Above all his writing is a triumph of style, the most powerful and unmistakable style I've seen since Kurt Vonnegut. Pick a book, any book. In the first few sentences you know you're reading Brodsky."
Mark Kerstetter, The Mockingbird Sings
"His novels, plays and short story collections have been likened by the mainstream press to the work of Beckett, Joyce, Kafka, Proust, Dostoyevsky and Swift, as well as Barth, Pynchon, Barthelme and Burroughs. I would add Thomas Bernhard and Italo Svevo, for reasons of style and the formidable, original talent their texts exhibit."
Judith Upjohn, American Book Review
"Brodsky . . . is a sensitive, original, and thoughtful writer, one of the best produced by this country in the last 30 years."
Harvey Pekar, The Village Voice
"Brodsky is a master both of technique and of language, his sentences positively crackling with unexpected insights."
"Brodsky possesses a masterly control of diction and rhythm, an often startling metaphoric gift, and a range of effects extending from Swiftian bluntness to Proustian elaboration."
The New York Review of Books
For more on Brodsky, check out his interview with George Salis, "Stigmata of the Intrinsic Lesion: A Rare Interview with Michael Brodsky," on The Collidescope, in which he discusses Invidicum, among other things.