Summary and book reviews of The Plot by Jean Korelitz

The Plot

by Jean Korelitz

The Plot by Jean Korelitz X
The Plot by Jean Korelitz
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    May 2021, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Peggy Kurkowski
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Hailed as "breathtakingly suspenseful," Jean Hanff Korelitz's The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he's teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what's left of his self-respect; he hasn't written―let alone published―anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn't need Jake's help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then...he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker's first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that―a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker's predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his "sure thing" of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

CHAPTER ONE

Anybody Can Be a Writer

Jacob Finch Bonner, the once promising author of the "New & Noteworthy" (The New York Times Book Review) novel The Invention of Wonder, let himself into the office he'd been assigned on the second floor of Richard Peng Hall, set his beat-up leather satchel on the barren desk, and looked around in something akin to despair. The office, his fourth home in Richard Peng Hall in as many years, was no great improvement on the earlier three, but at least it overlooked a vaguely collegiate walkway under trees from the window behind the desk, rather than the parking lot of years two and three or the dumpster of year one (when, ironically, he'd been much closer to the height of his literary fame, such as it was, and might conceivably have hoped for something nicer). The only thing in the room that signaled anything of an actual literary nature, that signaled anything of any warmth at all, was the beat-up satchel Jake used to transport his laptop and, ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Jean Hanff Korelitz's inimitable and imaginative story-within-a-story sinks its claws in early and doesn't let go until its unforgettable finish. She explores the insular world of her own craft — writers and their ideas — via a chilling twist perhaps as clever as the one Evan Parker shares with Jacob Finch Bonner at an MFA program one fateful day. A truly unique plot in its own right, the novel is a joy in part for its insider look at the writer's solitary craft juxtaposed against the hype and marketing of the publishing world...continued

Full Review Members Only (644 words).

(Reviewed by Peggy Kurkowski).

Media Reviews

New York Times
As a longtime fan of Korelitz’s novels...I will say that I think The Plot is her gutsiest, most consequential book yet. It keeps you guessing and wondering, and also keeps you thinking: about ambition, fame and the nature of intellectual property (the analog kind). Are there a finite number of stories? Is there a statute of limitations on ownership of unused ideas? These weighty questions mingle with a love story, a mystery and a striver’s journey — three of the most satisfying flavors of fiction out there.

Booklist
Korelitz...effortlessly deconstructs the campus novel and, much like Michael Chabon in Wonder Boys (1995), acerbically mocks the publishing industry. Fearless Korelitz presents a wry and unusual joyride of a thriller full of gasp-inducing twists as it explores copyright, ownership, and the questionable morals of writers.

BookPage
Readers may find themselves batting away sleep and setting an alarm for early the next day to continue Jean Hanff Korelitz’s propulsive literary thriller, The Plot. Korelitz is an audacious writer who delivers on her promises. Her next big-screen adaptation surely awaits.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
[A]n ingeniously twisty novel... Deep character development, an impressively thick tapestry of intertwining story lines, and a candid glimpse into the publishing business make this a page-turner of the highest order. Korelitz deserves acclaim for her own perfect plot

Kirkus Reviews
[S]atisfyingly twisty...in the best tradition of Patricia Highsmith and other chroniclers of the human psyche's darkest depths. Gripping and thoroughly unsettling: This one will be flying off the shelves.

Author Blurb Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, New York Times bestselling authors of The Wife Between Us
The Plot is so well-crafted and compelling it's nearly impossible to put down. Clever and chilling, this page-turner grabs you from the first chapter and doesn't let you go until its startling, breath-taking conclusion.

Author Blurb Megan Abbott, bestselling author of Give Me Your Hand
From its first pages, Jean Hanff Korelitz's The Plot ensnares you in a rich tangle of literary vanities, treachery and fraud. Psychologically acute and breathtakingly suspenseful, you'll find yourself rushing towards a finale both astonishing and utterly earned.

Reader Reviews

Sue B

What a plot it is!
Great read, twists all thru the story and the story within the story. Truly was a book I couldn’t put down. Excellent writing keep the flow going the entire time.
Kate G

Are there any new plots to be written?
My disclaimer: I have met Jean Hanff Korelitz many times and have attended many of her Pop-up book groups in NYC through her venture, Book the Writer. I received an ARC of The Plot for Celadon and I was thrilled. I am not a thriller person in ...   Read More
Abdul Salam Rain

The Plot
It's very good book.
Techeditor

Boring, boring, boring
If you are a writer or work in the publishing industry, THE PLOT is for you. As far as I can tell, though, this book is not for anyone else. It bored me. I am sure it will bore most people, maybe even writers and those who work in the publishing ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Creative Writing MFA Programs

Hands poised on typewriter keysThe Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing is a graduate-level degree earned by students who seek to pursue work as authors, editors, playwrights, or to teach at the college level. As of 2019, there were more than 200 Creative Writing MFA programs according to Poets & Writers' MFA Index, of which 158 were full-time residency and 64 low-residency programs (like the fictional Ripley Symposia where Jacob Finch Bonner teaches in The Plot).

One of the most prestigious and prominent MFA writing programs is the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, the first creative writing degree program established in the United States in 1936. One of the hardest programs to get accepted into, the achievements of its alumni are impressive — ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Plot, try these:

  • The Truants jacket

    The Truants

    by Kate Weinberg

    Published 2021

    About this book

    Seductive, unsettling, and beautifully written, The Truants is a debut novel of literary suspense perfect for lovers of Agatha Christie and The Secret History - a thrilling exploration of deceit, first love, and the depths to which obsession can drive us.

  • Conviction jacket

    Conviction

    by Denise Mina

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More by this author

    The captivating, utterly unforgettable new thriller for fans of Killing Eve and The Woman in the Window: A true-crime podcast sets a housewife's present life on a collision course with her secret past.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket
    Migrations
    by Charlotte McConaghy
    Migrations, Australian author Charlotte McConaghy's literary fiction debut, earned a notably high ...
  • Book Jacket: The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    The Forest of Vanishing Stars
    by Kristin Harmel
    Kristin Harmel's historical novel The Forest of Vanishing Stars was very well-received by our First ...
  • Book Jacket: African Europeans
    African Europeans
    by Olivette Otele
    The nexus of Africans and Europeans is not a recent historical development. Rather, the peoples of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Killing Hills
    The Killing Hills
    by Chris Offutt
    The personified hills of the novel's title foreshadow the mood of this brooding and ominous tale. ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Migrations
by Charlotte McConaghy
A breathtaking page-turner and an ode to our threatened world.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Sunset Route
    by Carrot Quinn

    A beautiful memoir about forgiveness, self-discovery, and the redemptive power of nature.

Win This Book!
Win The Debt Trap

The Debt Trap
by Josh Mitchell

"A meticulous, eye-opening history of the US student debt crisis."
—Publishers Weekly

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A T I A Teapot

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.