‘Mordant, torrential, incantatory, Bolano-esque, Perec-ian, and just so explosively written that I had to stop and shake the language-shrapnel from my hair and wipe it off my eyeglasses so I could keep reading’ Jonathan Lethem

‘Full of clever postmodern flourishes, self-referential winks and riotous set pieces. It’s funny, smart and beautifully written’ Alex Preston, The Guardian


‘I absolutely adored Dead Souls. Reading it felt like overhearing the most exhilarating, funny, mean conversation imaginable–which is to say it made me extremely happy and I dreaded it ending’ Megan Nolan, author of Acts of Desperation

‘I first heard about Solomon Wiese on a bright, blustery day on the South Bank…’

Later that evening, at the bar of the Travelodge near Waterloo Bridge, our unnamed narrator will encounter that very same Solomon Wiese.

In a conversation that lasts until morning, he will hear Solomon Wiese’s story of his spectacular fall from grace.

A story about a scandal that has shaken the literary world and an accusation of serial plagiarism.

A story about childhood encounters with nothingness and a friend’s descent into psychosis; about conspiracies and poetry cults; about a love affair with a woman carrying a signpost and the death of an old poet.

A story about a retreat to the East Anglian countryside and plans for a triumphant return to the capital, through the theft of poems, illegal war profits and faked social media accounts – plans in which our unnamed narrator discovers he is obscurely implicated…

A story that will take the entire night – and the remainder of the novel – to tell.

‘Reading Dead Souls feels like discovering the British Bolaño, and not just for the gleeful dismantling of the cultural ego: the restless, searching sensibility; the precise tuning-in to contradictory voices. I haven’t been so excited by a debut novel in a long time’ Luke Kennard, author of The Transition


‘Elegant, ambitious, very serious and very funny’ Katharine Kilalea, author of OK, Mr. Field


‘Sublime, legendary, delightfully unhinged. A rare and brilliant pleasure’ Nicolette Polek, author of Imaginary Museums

Reviews

Sublime, legendary, delightfully unhinged. Sam Riviere's Dead Souls is a rare and brilliant pleasure, a coiling, searing fugue of a book that takes our deranged culture and pulls forth from it a box of stars
Nicolette Polek, author of IMAGINARY MUSEUMS
Dead Souls is the literary equivalent of a 100% cocoa bar: intimidating, bitter, rich, and ultimately the only one worth your time. The novel seduces through relentlessly nested narratives, endlessly psychologically refracted. I have no idea quite how Rivière makes such an undertaking a compulsive and delightful page-turner - I wish I did, because I'd steal it. Something oracular and terrifying lurks just below the surface of the pitch-perfect digressions and character assassinations, like uncovering the evidence for a long-dismissed paranoia and finding yourself an unwitting instigator of the conspiracy. But it's also beautiful, intricately humane, and gut-wrenchingly funny; not so much cynical as a ruthless vivisection of cynicism itself... Reading it feels like discovering the British Bolaño, and not just for the gleeful dismantling of the cultural ego: the restless, searching sensibility; the precise tuning-in to contradictory voices. I haven't been so excited by a debut novel in a long time
Luke Kennard, author of THE TRANSITION
As Brontë does so disarmingly in Wuthering Heights and Nabokov in Pale Fire, Sam Riviere gives a loquacious and pleasingly unreliable nobody the task of telling the tale of Dead Souls' true protagonist: Solomon Weise, a recently excommunicated poet who seems to have been everywhere and known everyone. In long, sure sentences reminiscent of Thomas Bernhard, Riviere cracks open the administrative heart of the contemporary literary endeavor, finding it full not of hot air but of crowds of characters, a whole shimmering historical ecosystem-in short, the world as we know it, as mesmerizingly real as it is fictional.
Lucy Ives, author of COSMOLOGY and LOUDERMILK
I absolutely adored Dead Souls. Reading it felt like overhearing the most exhilarating, funny, mean conversation imaginable - which is to say it made me extremely happy and I dreaded it ending
Megan Nolan, author of ACTS OF DESPERATION
Dead Souls is elegant, ambitious, very serious and very funny - an enlivening burst of anti-anti-intellectualism.
Katherine Kilalea, author of OK, MR. FIELD
If as I read Sam Riviere's wonderful first novel I discerned intriguing notes of Rachel Cusk's Outline Trilogy and Thomas Bernhard's propulsive monologues, I also found myself thinking with pleasure of the intricate (and hilarious) book-world satire in Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Echoes aside, Dead Souls is its own whip smart, razor sharp, wise-funny, highly readable animal and I can't recommend it enthusiastically enough.
Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome
Mordant, torrential, incantatory, Bolano-esque, Perec-ian, and just so explosively written that I had to stop and shake the language-shrapnel from my hair and wipe it off my eyeglasses so I could keep reading.
Jonathan Lethem
Full of clever postmodern flourishes, self-referential winks and riotous set pieces. It's funny, smart and beautifully written.
Alex Preston, Guardian
Riviere artfully blends metaphysics, existentialism, ideas of originality, and plagiarism, plus an enticing dose of history and memoir in this captivating read.
Reader's Digest, A Best Fiction Book of the Year
Riviere's provocative debut novel ... Calls to mind Thomas Bernhard not only for its form but its rhythm and cadence
Publishers Weekly
A mesmeric (and often mordantly funny) read. Fans of the great Austrian curmudgeon Thomas Bernhard will recognise the style. I also thought of other modern masters who capture the cataract of consciousness in serpentine syntax: László Krasznahorkai; Javier Marías; even WG Sebald. And, of course, this shaggy-dog story about the delusions and misadventures of obscure, self-mythologising poets cannot help but evoke the Roberto Bolaño of The Savage Detectives ... The sheer brio and tumbling intelligence of Riviere's narration lift almost every page. Once you catch the spuming surf of his prose you'll want to ride the wave to the shore. He's wickedly sharp about the pious deceits, and self-deceptions, that fuel the culture industry like oil
Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk