Reviews of Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi

Paradise, Nevada

by Dario Diofebi

Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi X
Paradise, Nevada by Dario Diofebi
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Apr 2021, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Grace Graham-Taylor
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About this Book

Book Summary

From an exhilarating new literary voice--the story of four transplants braving the explosive political tensions behind the deceptive, spectacular, endlessly self-reinventing city of Las Vegas.

On Friday, May 1st, 2015 a bomb detonates in the infamous Positano Luxury Resort and Casino, a mammoth hotel (and exact replica of the Amalfi coast) on the Las Vegas Strip.

Six months prior, a crop of strivers converge on the desert city, attempting to make a home amidst the dizzying lights: Ray, a mathematically-minded high stakes professional poker player; Mary Ann, a clinically depressed cocktail waitress; Tom, a tourist from the working class suburbs of Rome, Italy; and Lindsay, a Mormon journalist for the Las Vegas Sun who dreams of a literary career. By chance and by design, they find themselves caught up in backroom schemes for personal and political power, and are thrown into the deep end of an even bigger fight for the soul of the paradoxical town.

A furiously rowdy and ricocheting saga about poker, happiness, class, and selflessness, Paradise, Nevada is a panoramic tour of America in miniature, a vertiginously beautiful systems novel where the bloody battles of neo-liberalism, immigration, labor, and family rage underneath Las Vegas' beguiling and strangely benevolent light. This exuberant debut marks the beginning of a significant career.

Excerpt
Paradise, Nevada


Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Ray had arrived in Marin County at night. Having spent the cab ride home looking at his phone to discourage the driver from talking to him, and having had to wrestle his father for control of the heavier, more wobbly-wheeled bag on the way inside (so that "Seriously dad, let me do it" had been his first words to him), he'd had no time to gradually reacquaint himself with his childhood town, neighborhood, and house. At the periphery of his vision, familiar shapes gave in quietly to the sameness of the night. But as soon as he was inside, the yellow glow of the low-energy light bulbs on the cherrywood bookshelves awakened him to his obvious mistake: he was home.

It took Ray a few days to readjust to the place where his precocious talents had been first noticed and nurtured. In the quiet jazz suffusing the rooms he knew so well, he could still hear the whispered expectations for his future his parents had gone to extreme pedagogical...

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Reviews

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Professional gambling is a fascinating niche, and Diofebi, an ex-professional poker player, provides the reader with insider knowledge. He also writes with real compassion about the lives of the frequently unappreciated waitresses and dancers — often young, attractive women whose careers are dependent on their looks and who are treated as expendable once they reach a certain age. Diofebi seems to be emulating writers such as David Foster Wallace, whose complex fictional worlds include the perspectives of even the most minor characters. Unfortunately, this similarity invites comparison — one that sees Diofebi coming up short. However, the breadth of the novel does give him ample room to explore many interesting themes and subcultures — from gentrification to Mormonism to the alt-right...continued

Full Review (533 words).

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(Reviewed by Grace Graham-Taylor).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A great American novel set in the city of busted dreams...This sprawling, delightful debut book captures the artificial worlds within [Las Vegas]...This is a tremendously funny book, but it earns its laughs through human frailty...An intimate epic set in a virtual but deeply human world.

Booklist
This is a heady read, filled with surprising turns of phrase and unexpected relationships...Readers of complex literary fiction will appreciate the sharp and nuanced writing.

Publishers Weekly
[A] sprawling, eloquent debut...With intelligence and empathy, Diofebi delivers a powerful and unapologetic slice of Americana.

Author Blurb Darin Strauss, National Book Critics Circle Award-Winning author of Half a Life
This is a book made of neon and late nights and that glass of scotch that appears just when you want it. It's been years since I read anything nearly as fun. Vegas has been right there forever, waiting for a great novelist, and Dario Diofebi has come dealing nothing but aces.

Author Blurb David Lipsky, author of Absolutely American and Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
Dario Diofebi is a wonder-a brilliant comic voice telling a thrilling compassionate story. People have talked about the complete winning package, the full boat that's aces over kings, and that's Diofebi: piercingly funny about modern life, compassionately human about his characters. Diofebi's written the ultimate poker novel, the ultimate casino story-but there's also the voice, one you know is going to be around for a long time, with the thrill of catching it on day one, on the ground floor.

Author Blurb Susan Choi, National Book Award-Winning author of Trust Exercise
Paradise, Nevada won't just compel with its high-stakes momentum, it'll teach you to win high-stakes poker! Dario Diofebi is an irreverent and audacious new voice.

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Beyond the Book

A History of the Vegas Showgirl

Women in showgirl costumes Dario Diofebi's novel Paradise, Nevada takes a look into the world of the Las Vegas working woman, including the iconic Vegas showgirl. The last traditional showgirl extravaganza, "Jubilee," was shut down in 2016 after a 34-year run, pushed out by competition from other entertainments catering to more modern and family-friendly tastes. While showgirls still work in some capacities in Vegas, the final performance of "Jubilee" was the last of a breed of major professional shows that already felt consigned to the past — a bygone era of Hollywood glamour, post-war optimism and strict gender norms. Yet the showgirl's image remains as an archetype of femininity, a gem-studded fantasy.

The Vegas showgirl's origins lie not in Nevada ...

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