The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation Summary and Reviews

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation

Volume One: The Pox Party

by M. T. Anderson

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation

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Book Summary

It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names. As the boy's regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians' fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them. Set against the disquiet of Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson's extraordinary novel takes place at a time when American Patriots rioted and battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Awards, 2006

Reviews

Media Reviews

"The meaty subject matter and Anderson's numerous stylistic devices ...render this a challenging listen even for a sophisticated audience." - PW.

"Teens looking for a challenge will find plenty to sink into here. The questions raised about race and freedom are well developed and leave a different perspective on the Revolutionary War than most novels." - VOYA.

"This heartrending look at racism and the Revolution--often Gothic in tone, as the author comments in a note at the end that explains the facts on which he bases his fiction--is an unusual and compelling read." - KLIATT.

"This is the Revolutionary War seen at its intersection with slavery through a disturbingly original lens." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

M. T. Anderson Author Biography

Writing the celebrated satire, Feed, says M. T. Anderson, was a process that demanded a fair share of field research. "I read a huge number of magazines like Seventeen and Stuff," he confesses. "I listened to cell phone conversations in malls. Where else could you get lines like 'Dude, I think the truffle is totally undervalued'?" It seems these furtive observations paid off: Feed, a National Book Award Finalist, was honored with the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among many other major awards, and dubbed "satire at its finest."

The research undertaken to write The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor To The Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party, a National Book Award Winner, was on a wholly different magnitude, the author recalls. Street-side eavesdropping was replaced with...

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