Sucker: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Succession meets Bad Blood in this sharp-toothed satire of Silicon Valley and the 1 percent • The black-sheep son of an industrial tycoon starts working for a tech pioneer who's running a biomedical startup selling nothing less than immortality, only to uncover the horrifying truth at the heart of her sublime promises.
"Exceptional, horrifically hilarious, and deeply original.” —Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here
Chuck Gross would like nothing more than to prune himself from his family tree. He’s already clipped his name, turning Charles Grossheart, Jr.—son of a billionaire labor exploiter, weapons manufacturer, and climate change denier—into ordinary good-guy Chuck, the “self-made” proprietor of an up-and-coming punk label. But when Daddy threatens to cut him off, Chuck is forced to get a “real job”—and conveniently, an old college friend has just swept back into his life with the perfect opportunity.
Famed Harvard dropout and biotech darling Olivia Watts says she is on the verge of totally reinventing the field of medicine, but when Chuck signs on, he soon discovers that things at the vast Kenosis campus are not quite how they appear. Secret labs, vanished employees, and mutated test subjects seem to be as impossible as they are sinister. Is Olivia simply a scammer, or does her technology threaten to usher humanity toward a far bloodier fate? Moreover, does Chuck—who has never accomplished anything without the aid of Daddy’s money—stand a chance of stopping her? Daniel Hornsby hilariously skewers the insatiable hungers of the ultrarich in a novel that no one will be able to resist sinking their teeth into.
About the Author
DANIEL HORNSBY was born in Muncie, Indiana. He holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan, where he received Hopwood Awards for both short fiction and the novel, and an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School. He is the author of a novel, Via Negativa, and his stories and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, The Missouri Review, and Joyland. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“This is not so much a roman à clef as a roman avec des dents: Hornsby retells the bloody story of Elizabeth Holmes as a vampire spoof. . . . Hornsby brings a sharp wit to this worn crypt. Sucker highlights the Twilight in The Twilight Zone to create a caustic satire of obscene wealth. . . . Hornsby’s descriptions frequently draw blood. . . . No matter the fangs or the fury, Hornsby never forgets he’s writing a comic novel inspired by one of the 21st century’s greatest swindlers. What really keeps Sucker airborne, though, is how it spreads its wings to embrace the whole nefarious network of super-rich fiends who hang in the shadows and drain ordinary people dry.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“[A] winning comic thriller. . . . An entertaining page-turner, Sucker is also a keen send-up of tech industry grandiosity.”
—Kevin Canfield, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Daniel Hornsby has pulled off an incredibly impressive feat with Sucker, a wildly funny satire of technology, of obscene wealth, of the real and fake narratives we tell about ourselves. Just when you think you know where it’s going, how it will fall in line with the absurdities of our own world, he swerves in ways that open up the story beyond what you could have imagined. Exceptional, horrifically hilarious, and deeply original.”
—Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here
“Hornsby’s previous novel, Via Negativa, was a moving, contemplative story about an aging priest, so Sucker is his chance to branch out into macabre comedy and crime capers. . . . Thoroughly entertaining.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“Daniel Hornsby is out for blood in this delightfully monstrous sci-fi skewering of modern tech entrepreneurship and age-old human hubris. . . . A hilarious fever dream of . . . tech culture, medical horror, and stomach-turning greed. This is the Frankenstein’s monster of The Dropout and Jennifer’s Body you didn’t know you needed.”
—Charley Burlock, Oprah Daily
“The book’s dramatic tension comes from the main character’s willing obliviousness to the nosferatus in his midst, even as he falls more deeply into their clutches and unwittingly advances their plans. . . . Hornsby is unusually committed to the bit. In his simultaneously paranoid and plausible vision . . . the conspiracy of wealth that rules the Bay Area sucks dry everything and everyone.”
—Chelsea Davis, Tor
“A deeply sardonic salad of tech world billionaires and campy horror.”
“Sucker is a satire of the Silicon Valley hype and the ability of wealth to stave off truth. . . . A glimpse into how such a blatant scam, well, suckered, people—and how something worse could do the same.”
—Charles Bonkowsky, Tor
“A wry satire of the tech world inspired by Elizabeth Holmes.”
—Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press
“This skewering of Silicon Valley startup culture is biting satire—complete with fangs. . . . Anyone who enjoyed the delicious schadenfreude of the Theranos trial will get a kick out of this book. If Chuck Palahniuk and Stephenie Meyer teamed up to write a spec script for Succession, this is what you might get.”
“Undeniably of the moment . . . just the sort of biting satire (I’m so sorry) that a lot of us could stand to sink our teeth into (seriously, like, so sorry) right now.”
—Sophia M. Stewart, The Millions
"A sharp, laser-focused satire that refuses to go easy on America's most evil weirdos."
—Mattie Lubchansky, author of Boys Weekend
“A rollicking Silicon Valley tech satire. . . . It’s very funny . . . and Hornsby has a knack for pillorying the vast industries of bullshit that dominate America c. 2023. . . . Let Hornsby set us free!”
—Janet Manley, Literary Hub, “The 28 Novels You Need to Read This Summer”
“Wickedly astute and bitingly funny, Sucker’s take on a weird true Silicon Valley story is an unputdownable, cathartic read for all of us who’ve been suckered by Big Tech for years.”
—Laura Sims, author of Looker
“Daniel Hornsby’s Sucker grapples with the ever-widening rot at the core of American capitalism with an illuminating sense of intelligence, humor, and moral clarity. Hornsby’s characters are flawed, all the worse for their greed and ambition, but their story serves as a cautionary parable for anyone looking to withstand the worst instincts of American life. A biting, wicked satire.”
—Isle McElroy, author of The Atmospherians
“Tantalizing. . . . A gonzo, slow-burning speculative thriller. . . . [A] sharp-fanged Silicon Valley satire.”