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The End of October: A novel (Hardcover)

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“An eerily prescient novel about a devastating virus that begins in Asia before going global . . . A page-turner that has the earmarks of an instant bestseller.” New York Post
“Featuring accounts of past plagues and pandemics, descriptions of pathogens and how they work, and dark notes about global warming, the book produces deep shudders . . . A disturbing, eerily timed novel.”Kirkus Reviews

“A compelling read up to the last sentence. Wright has come up with a story worthy of Michael Crichton. In an eerily calm, matter-of-fact way, and backed by meticulous research, he imagines what the world would actually be like in the grip of a devastating new virus.” —Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone

“This timely literary page-turner shows Wright is on a par with the best writers in the genre.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

In this riveting medical thriller--from the Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author--Dr. Henry Parsons, an unlikely but appealing hero, races to find the origins and cure of a mysterious new killer virus as it brings the world to its knees.

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons--microbiologist, epidemiologist--travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city . . . A Russian émigré, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare . . . Already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by one, in the face of a pandemic . . . Henry's wife, Jill, and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta . . . And the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions--scientific, religious, governmental--and decimating the population. As packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, Lawrence Wright has given us a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.

About the Author

LAWRENCE WRIGHT is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a playwright, a screenwriter, and the author of ten books of nonfiction, including The Looming Tower, Going Clear, and God Save Texas, and one previous novel, God's Favorite. His books have received many honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.

Praise For…

“Wright’s awesome imagination is matched by his authenticity. The End of October is prescient and stunning.” —Tom Hanks

“Wright applies the magisterial force of his reporting skills into spinning a novel of pestilence, war, and social collapse that, given the current pandemic, cuts exceedingly close to the bone. . . . He works into the book accounts of historical epidemics, descriptions of Russian cyber- and bio-warfare capabilities, the story of the 1803 attempt to save the New World from small pox, and other curious nonfiction set pieces. . . . Despite the nonfiction scaffolding, this is a novel and a good one. The main plot line centers on an epidemiologist, his family and his Odysseus-like return home from the biological battleground.” —Douglas Preston, The New York Times Book Review
“A fast-paced thriller with big, sweeping, made-for-the-adapted-screenplay action sequences . . . The End of October is the perfect novel for a long airplane flight or a beach chair. Provided, of course, our real-life leaders are a bit more effective than Wright’s fictional ones, and we’re all once again able to encounter either of those this year.” —Scott Detrow, NPR
“A swift and all-too-convincing chronicle of science, espionage, action and speculation that moves from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia to the U.S. as it eerily evokes real-life current events. Deeply rooted in factual research, The End of October may well prove the most frightening novel of the year.” —Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal

“What makes The End of October compelling to read right now is that Wright researched the hell out of what kind of infrastructure the US would need to survive a pandemic. He concluded that we did not have it. And then he drew on his formidable knowledge of domestic and international politics to imagine what would ensue.” —Constance Grady, Vox
“To say that Wright’s new novel [is] prescient would be an understatement. This is the novel as Nostradamus . . . I couldn’t stop reading it . . . If the world reads this today, we might be able to avoid Wright’s tomorrow.” —Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail

“A thriller for our times . . . Like all good thrillers, The End of October diverts us from the real world while keeping a firm base there, letting us imagine not only disaster but the ways out of it.” —Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

“Some works of fiction seem ripped from the headlines. Others anticipate the news, providing a prophetic vision of our future. Lawrence Wright's new novel, The End of October, belongs in the rare second category.” —Daniel Burke, CNN

“Reading the book now, amid a pandemic that has exposed the terrifying fragility of our social structures and political institutions, is a deeply unnerving experience.” —Lila Shapiro, Vulture

“[Wright’s] book shows that our new reality, a surprise and a shock to most of us, is actually following a script written far in advance, with all the words and phrases that we never used six weeks ago—attack rate, viral load, cytokine storm—now part of our everyday speech . . . The prescience of The End of October is undeniable . . . Wright is as amiable a tour guide as you could hope for through the darkest terrain of recent history.” —Christian Lorentzen, Air Mail

“As a distinguished journalist and author of several highly successful factual books, Wright approached this just as he would any other journalistic assignment, carrying out detailed research and preparation. As he went from expert to expert he heard clear warnings that something like the coronavirus would happen. It was a question not so much of 'if' but 'when,' and crucially, many asked how prepared governments would be to cope with it . . . Is truth stranger than fiction, as the American writer Mark Twain once suggested? Now we all have a chance to judge for ourselves.” —Jonathan Marcus, BBC

“So uncannily timed that any moment now some conspiracy theorist will tweet that our real-life pandemic is a hoax dreamed up by Wright’s publicist.” —Texas Monthly

“As captivating as it is disorienting to step Alice-like into Wright’s vision of an influenza-ridden planet . . . Even taken as speculative fiction, the author approaches his subject with gravity befitting the stakes . . . Throughout, Wright keeps the various threads pulled taut—medicine, military matters, international intrigue, economics . . . There is real romance at the heart of The End of October, too, and faced with heartache triggered by the daily news, it brought tears to my eyes.” —Dan Oko, The Texas Observer
“Harrowing . . . Wright is excellent at gracefully working the science of viruses into the narrative . . . The second half is almost pure action—pure, heart-stopping action . . . This book will wake you up, and keep you awake.” —Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Terrific . . . A gripping ride . . . Because Wright is a researcher at heart, the attention to detail in the book—medical, microbiological, epidemiological—is more informative than the hundreds of articles published about COVID-19 for laymen.” —Patricia McCarthy, American Thinker

“The propulsive plot is counterweighted with rigorous, gracefully presented context on the history and behavior of diseases . . . Reading The End of October, though, I felt oddly soothed.” —Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
“There have been many novels about global pandemics, but few were released while the world was sheltering from a real pandemic, and few writers capture the drama as well as Lawrence Wright.” —Brian Bandell, Criminal Element
“The submarine scenes are vividly real, unforgettable . . . The whole book is deeply convincing . . . A very effective thriller, by any measure.” —Claude Forthomme, Impakter

“A maniacal page-turner. [A] sweeping, authoritative, and genuinely intelligent thriller . . . It read[s] as if it’s been shot out of a cannon. [Wright] offers the joy of competence—his own as a writer, and the scientific and moral competence of many of the characters he’s invented . . . Everywhere there is clear writing about pestilence and science . . . Wright’s novel is here as a real if solemn entertainment, a stay against boredom and a kind of offered prayer for the best in us to rise to the surface.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“This is the book you need to read this spring.” —Teresa Timmer, Bulletin Mail 

“Holy crap, Lawrence Wright predicted the future . . . His medical thriller is truly a story for our times.” —Molly Odintz, Crime Reads

“Is this really a work of fiction? Or was it a prophecy?” —Jaime Dunaway, Lakewood Advocate Magazine 

“[A] multifaceted thriller . . . Wright pulls few punches and imbues even walk-on characters with enough humanity that their fate will matter to readers. This timely literary page-turner shows Wright is on a par with the best writers in the genre.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780525658658
ISBN-10: 0525658653
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: April 28th, 2020
Pages: 400
Language: English