Preparation for the Next Life

Pages: 432
Subject: Fiction
Imprint: Oneworld

Preparation for the Next Life

Atticus Lish

‘Punches its way, bare-knuckled, through every millennial New York novel centring around middle-class intellectual characters… but its real target, sought out with a heat-seeking precision, is far weightier, and that is America itself' (Observer)

9781780748337 (4 Feb 2016)
RRP £8.99

The Book

In post-9/11 New York, Zou Lei is an illegal immigrant from northwest China. Forced to work fourteen-hour days and live in squalor, she nevertheless embraces the many freedoms her adopted homeland has to offer. Damaged by three tours in Iraq, veteran Brad Skinner comes to New York with the sole intention of partying as hard as he can in order to forget what he's seen. Impulsive and angry, Skinner's re-entry into civilian life seems doomed. But when he meets Zou Lei they discover that new beginnings may be possible for both of them, that is if they can survive homelessness, lockup and Skinner's post-traumatic stress disorder.

Set in the underbelly of New York, Preparation for the Next Life exposes an America as seen from the fringes of society in devastating detail and destroys the myth of the American Dream through two of the most remarkable characters in contemporary fiction.

Additional Information

Subject Fiction
Pages 432
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Atticus Lish is the author of Life is With People. The son of legendary writer and editor Gordon Lish, he has worked in a Styrofoam factory, as a construction labourer, a personal trainer, moving man, security guard and telemarketer. He served a brief stretch in the Marine Corps in the war-free period between Gulf One and 9/11. He lives in New York.


'This behemoth of a novel packs an emotional punch that will send you reeling…a disturbing and compelling picture of lives in the margins'.

- Mail on Sunday

'Into the field of post-9/11 literature wades America's latest literary darling, Atticus Lish…Lish was awarded the PEN/Faulkner award for this book. Those who have read it will agree with the decision'.

- Times

'Extraordinarily powerful…Lish's remarkable debut fuses raw realism with narrative poetry to memorable effect'.

- Sunday Times

'A stunning, brilliant novel...Every word, every encounter, rings true.'

- Observer, ‘Pick of the Week’

'This book is a masterwork.'

- Alan Warner, author of Morvern Callar

'Devastatingly good. My heart was a different size by the time I finished: swollen from the terrible beating it took, but also, I think, permanently augmented.'

- Ned Beauman, author of The Teleportation Accident

‘Powerful… Lish writes with rare confidence… he doesn't forget that a good love story should break your heart'  

- Metro

‘Punches its way, bare-knuckled, through every millennial New York novel centring around middle-class intellectual characters… kicking typical tales of artsy, east-coast intelligentsia romance into a dumpster. But its real target, sought out with a heat-seeking precision, is far weightier, and that is America itself'

- Observer

‘Extraordinary… "Make it new” was Ezra Pound's exhortation… Lish does exactly that… astonishing… nothing less than a triumph, worthy of every heroic adjective a critic could throw. It is a reminder, plain and simple, of what fiction is for'

- FT

‘Will pull you in… completely compelling and persuasive… a New York which you won't read about that often… poetic… there's a beautiful exactness'


‘A blistering novel… bigger than the sum of its parts. I can think of no better recent fiction book to read as the presidential election circuit gears up.'

- The Times

‘Importan[t]…Lish excels at dialogue' 

- Literary Review

'Here is a raw first novel with a low center of gravity. Set in Queens, it dilates upon blinkered lives, scummy apartments, dismal food and bad options. At its heart is a love story between a Chinese immigrant and a veteran of the Iraq war. Mr. Lish's narrative is intense, moving and somehow necessary.'

- New York Times, 2014 Books of the Year

‘Impressive.. Charged with breathless momentum… substantial and beguiling…This is, in the end, a profoundly political book'

- Guardian

‘Extraordinarily powerful… The burning intensity of the prose… fully absorbs all the detail… Lish's remarkable debut fuses raw realism with narrative poetry to truly memorable effect' 

- Sunday Times

‘A significant contribution… striking… [Lish] isn't catching a mood but building a world… we look to long novels for richness, not perfection, for power, not precision, so we should savour Lish's audacity and open heart, his refusal to coddle or console'

- Daily Telegraph

‘Magnificent… one of the best recent novels I have read about work as it exists for millions of people… attests to a more profound and intimate knowledge of how life functions on the margins' 

- New Statesman

‘Astonishing, gorgeous… It is hard to imagine a more daunting task for a novelist than to say something new about 9/11. Preparation for the Next Life is dizzying in its ambition and exhilarating in its triumph.' Clancy Martin,

- New York Review of Books

‘The finest and most unsentimental love story of the new decade.'

- New York Times

‘A tremendous book, relentless, moving, written in prose of marvellous integrity. Now that America and the novel are dead, I hope we can have more great American novels as alive as this one.'


- Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask

‘A tour de force of urban naturalism… a love story that's as bold and urgent as any you'll read this year.'

- Wall Street Journal

‘A stunning debut novel… Lish's prose is at once raw and disciplined, and every word feels necessary.'

- Publishers Weekly

‘The most relevant, and beautiful, novel of the year.' 

- Scott McClanahan, author of Crapalachia and Hill William