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Extended Audio Sample A Partial History of Lost Causes: A Novel Audiobook, by Jennifer duBois Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (789 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jennifer duBois Narrator: Kathe Mazur, Stephen Hoye Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2012 ISBN: 9780307969293
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FINALIST FOR THE PEN/HEMINGWAY PRIZE FOR DEBUT FICTION
 
In Jennifer duBois’s mesmerizing and exquisitely rendered debut novel, a long-lost letter links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds. With uncommon perception and wit, duBois explores the power of memory, the depths of human courage, and the endurance of love.
 
NAMED BY THE NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION AS A 5 UNDER 35 AUTHOR • WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD GOLD MEDAL FOR FIRST FICTION • WINNER OF THE NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY O: THE OPRAH MAGAZINE
 
“Astonishingly beautiful and brainy . . . [a] stunning novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“I can’t remember reading another novel—at least not recently—that’s both incredibly intelligent and also emotionally engaging.”—Nancy Pearl, NPR
 
In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest: He launches a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win—and that he is risking his life in the process—but a deeper conviction propels him forward.
 
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison struggles for a sense of purpose. Irina is certain she has inherited Huntington’s disease—the same cruel illness that ended her father’s life. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father wrote to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father asked the chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed in a lost cause?—but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
Salon • BookPage
 
Praise for A Partial History of Lost Causes
 
“A thrilling debut . . . [Jennifer] DuBois writes with haunting richness and fierce intelligence. . . . Full of bravado, insight, and clarity.”—Elle
 
“DuBois is precise and unsentimental. . . . She moves with a magician’s control between points of view, continents, histories, and sympathies.”—The New Yorker
 
“A real page-turner . . . a psychological thriller of great nuance and complexity.”—The Dallas Morning News
 
“Terrific . . . In urgent fashion, duBois deftly evokes Russia’s political and social metamorphosis over the past thirty years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Hilarious and heartbreaking and a triumph of the imagination.”—Gary Shteyngart


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An astonishingly beautiful and brainy debut novel.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • Gorgeous . . . DuBois writes with haunting richness and fierce intelligence. She has an equal grasp of politics and history, the emotional nuances of her complex characters, and the intricacies of chess. Irina and Aleksandr are difficult people, prickly and formidable, but they’re also sympathetic and flawed, vulnerable and human. DuBois’ evocations of Russia are lush, and her swashbuckling descriptions, whether of chess games, a doomed political campaign, or the anticipation of death, are moving yet startlingly funny—full of bravado, insight, and clarity. A Partial History of Lost Causes is a thrilling debut by a young writer who evidently shares the uncanny brilliance of her protagonists. Kate Christensen, Elle
  • Jennifer duBois's first novel is a meticulously constructed tale of intertwining destinies. Irina, a young American facing an unbearable diagnosis, and Aleksandr, a former Soviet chess champion turned dissident politician, are brought together by a long-forgotten letter that asks how to carry on with a lost cause. Ranging from Massachusetts to Moscow and covering several decades, A Partial History of Lost Causes abounds and fascinates with dark wit and poignant insight, chess and politics, frozen rivers and neon nightclubs. Maggie Shipstead, Salon
  • Hilarious and heartbreaking and a triumph of the imagination. Jennifer duBois is too young to be this talented.  I wish I were her. Gary Shteyngart
  • An amazing achievement—a braiding of historical, political, and personal, each strand illuminating the other. Wonderful characters, elusive glimpses of wisdom, and a gripping story that accelerates to just the right ending. Arthur Phillips
  • Thrilling, thoughtful, strange, gorgeous, political, and deeply personal, Jennifer duBois’s A Partial History of Lost Causes is a terrific debut novel. In prose both brainy and beautiful, she follows her characters as they struggle to save each other. This is a book to get lost in. Elizabeth McCracken
  • By what exquisite strategy did duBois settle on this championship permutation of literary moves? Her debut is a chess mystery with political, historical, philosophical, and emotional heft, a paean to the game and the humans who play it. DuBois probes questions of identity, death, art, and love with a piercing intelligence and a questing heart. Heidi Julavits
  • Terrific . . . In urgent fashion, duBois deftly evokes Russia’s political and social metamorphosis over the past thirty years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “A thrilling debut by a young writer who evidently shares the uncanny brilliance of her protagonists.”

    Elle

  • “duBois is precise and unsentimental…She moves with a magician’s control between points of view, continents, histories, and sympathies.”

    New Yorker

  • “Terrific…In urgent fashion, duBois deftly evokes Russia’s political and social metamorphosis over the past thirty years through the prism of this particular and moving relationship.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • [An] astonishingly beautiful and brainy debut novel . . . Against the backdrop of Russia’s recent political past, duBois conjures the briefly intersecting lives of two intriguingly complex strangers—prickly, introspective, and achingly lonely—who are nevertheless kindred spirits.  Her prose is both apt and strikingly original . . . So how do we proceed when defeat is inevitable? The stunning novel suggests an answer: We just do. Perseverance, it seems, is its own kind of victory. O: The Oprah Magazine
  • A 2013 PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award Finalist
  • Winner of the California Gold Medal for Literature for First Fiction in 2012
  • Winner of the Northern California Book Award for Fiction in 2012
  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Salon Magazine Best Book of the Year for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Christine | 2/10/2014

    " Couldn't get into it right now. I'll try again later "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 2/3/2014

    " Listen: Jennifer duBois is the shit. This was a all sorts of gorgeous. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janice | 1/26/2014

    " This book alternates between the perspective of two central characters: Irina is a young woman who faces the prospect of an possible inherited fatal illness, and Alekandr, a Russian champion chess player, who is entering the world of Russian politics. I found the chapters telling Irina's story engaging, sometimes haunting, but during the chapters surrounding Alekandr I found my mind wandering, and the story lost it's momentum. When the two are finally merged, my focus was intensified, the story much more enjoyable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 BEth Coulson | 1/24/2014

    " I was excited to read this book because the father character had Huntington's disease and I was interested in seeing how the author handled it. However, after 90 pages, and several nights of struggling with trying to get in to the book, I've given up. It just wasnt' going any where for me. Maybe because I'm not a chest enthusiast, or it just wasn't' moving fast enough, but I'm passing it on . Sorry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clea M | 1/20/2014

    " This is definitely the most Literary novel I've read in a while: the language is beautiful, it spans decades and different regimes, it tackles the big questions of mortality and the meaning of life, and it's heartbreaking. I went in knowing that it was going to be sad, considering that the main character has an early-in-life diagnosis of Huntingtons, but I wasn't prepared for how much the chapters about the disease made me want to run screaming into the night. Irina's dread was horribly palpable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine Mahoney | 1/13/2014

    " Loved most of it/ending only ok. We are all losers, so knowing how to lose is everything. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenny Lee | 11/8/2013

    " I love the way this book creates two such different characters whose lives are so intertwined by modern Russian politics. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fred Woods | 10/21/2013

    " Amazing emotional insight into losing the fear of not controlling what you can't. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ellie Revert | 9/7/2013

    " Not going to go here! (library) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Molly | 5/14/2013

    " This book starts off slow which is why I only gave it 3 stars. But it really draws in the reader as one gets farther and farther into the story. I very interesting and somewhat educational perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vivienne Croon | 12/21/2012

    " Did not love this book. Bit depressing "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 6/25/2012

    " A good, well written book. Engaging and witty. I had a hard time putting it down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn | 3/29/2012

    " A young woman waiting for the onset of Huntington's disease, a Russian chess champion daring to run for the presidency against Putin ... what does one do in the face of certain catastrophe? A beautiful novel that combines modern Russian history and wonderful characters - I loved it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Natasha | 2/22/2012

    " Good story felt like it was told by someone who was older but instead a young one with an old soul. All of the charecters felt real. "

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About the Author

Jennifer duBois was born in Northampton, MA in 1983. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, her work has appeared in Playboy, the Wall Street Journal, the Missouri Review, the Kenyon Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. Her first novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was honored by the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 program.

About the Narrators

Kathe Mazur has narrated many audiobooks, winning the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2014, being named a finalist for the Audie Award in 2013 and 2015, and winning seven AudioFile Earphones Awards. As an actress, she can be seen as DDA Hobbs on The Closer and in the upcoming Major Crimes. She has worked extensively in film, theater, and television, including appearances on Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, House, Brothers and Sisters, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, ER, Monk, and many others.

Stephen Hoye has worked as a professional actor in London and Los Angeles for more than thirty years. Trained at Boston University and the Guildhall in London, he has acted in television series and six feature films and has appeared in London’s West End. His audiobook narration has won him fifteen AudioFile Earphones Awards.