At the bitter end of the 1960s, after surviving multiple assassination attempts, President John F. Kennedy has created a vast federal agency, the Psych Corps, dedicated to maintaining the nation's mental hygiene by any means necessary. Soldiers returning from Vietnam have their battlefield traumas "enfolded"-wiped from their memories through drugs and therapy-while veterans too damaged to be enfolded roam at will in Michigan, evading the Psych Corps and reenacting atrocities on civilians. This destabilized, alternate version of American history is the vision of the twenty-two-year-old veteran Eugene Allen, who has returned from Vietnam to write the book at the center of Hystopia, the long-awaited first novel by David Means. In Hystopia, Means brings his full talent to bear on the crazy reality of trauma, both national and personal. Outlandish and tender, funny and violent, timely and historical, Hystopia invites us to consider whether our traumas can ever be truly overcome. The answers it offers are wildly inventive, deeply rooted in its characters, and wrung from the author's own heart.
"Hystopia is a thrilling novel - daring, immensely readable and also unexpectedly funny. David Means is that lucky (and brilliant) writer: a man in full possession of a vision." Richard Ford
David Means´ second collection of stories, Assorted Fire Events, earned the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction and a National Book Critics Circle nomination. His third book, The Secret Goldfish, received widespread critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Frank O´Connor International Short Story Prize. His fourth book, The Spot, was selected as a 2010 Notable Book by The New York Times, and won an O. Henry Prize. His books have been translated into eight languages, and his fiction has appeared The New Yorker, Harper´s Magazine, Esquire, Zoetrope, The Best American Short StoriesThe Best American Mystery Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and numerous other publications. He lives in Nyack, New York, and teaches at Vassar College.