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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (400 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alex Shakar Narrator: Charles Carroll Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN: 9781482981131
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Fred Brounian and his twin brother, George, were once co-CEOs of a New York City software company devoted to the creation of utopian virtual worlds. Now, in 2006, as two wars rage and the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, George is in a coma, control of the company has been wrenched away by a military contracting conglomerate, and Fred is broke. Near despair, he’s led by an attractive woman, Mira, to a neurological study promising “peak” experiences and a newfound spiritual outlook on life. As the study progresses, lines between subject and experimenter blur, and reality becomes increasingly porous. Meanwhile, Fred finds himself caught up in what seems at first a cruel prank: a series of bizarre emails and texts that purport to be from his comatose brother. Moving between the research hospitals of Manhattan, the streets of a meticulously planned Florida city, the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and the uncanny world of urban disaster simulation; threading through military listserv geek-speak, Hindu cosmology, the maxims of outmoded self-help books, and the latest neuro-scientific breakthroughs, Luminarium is a brilliant exploration of the way we live now, a novel that’s as much about the role technology and spirituality play in shaping our reality as it is about the undying bond between brothers, and the redemptive possibilities of love. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A brilliant book dogged in its pursuit of disassembling human experience in hopes of finding the essence, or at least an astoundingly prismatic view.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Heady and engrossing…Shakar is such an engaging writer, bringing rich complications to the narrative…At times, Luminarium reads like a Christopher Nolan or Wachowski brothers movie as scripted by Don DeLillo.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Virtual and ‘real’ reality intertwine in unpredictable ways in this ingenious novel; to his credit, Shakar’s approach is more philosophical than sci-fi…Shakar succeeds in a delicate balancing act here, securing the novel simultaneously (and paradoxically) in real, virtual, and supernatural worlds.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Luminarium is…one of the most exciting and bracing books I’ve read this year, because it has the guts to ask questions—and even venture some answers—regarding issues most contemporary American fiction won’t touch.”

    Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

  • “In his long-awaited second novel after the razor-sharp The Savage Girl, Shakar takes measure of our post-9/11 existential confusion in a technology-avid but sciencephobic, ‘ever-complexifying world.’ A radiantly imaginative social critic, Shakar is also a knowledgeable and intrepid explorer of metaphysical and neurological mysteries. With beguiling characters trapped in ludicrous and revelatory predicaments, this is a cosmic, incisively funny kaleidoscopic tale of loss, chaos, and yearning.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “[A] penetrating look at the uneasy intersection of technology and spirituality…Shakar’s blend of the business of cyberspace and the science of enlightenment distinguishes the novel as original and intrepid…Shakar’s prose is sharp and hilarious, engendering the reader’s faith in the novel’s philosophical ambitions. Part Philip K. Dick, part Jonathan Franzen, this radiant work leads you from the unreal to the real so convincingly that you begin to let go of the distinction.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Encompassing, caring, provocative, and funny, Shakar’s novel astutely dramatizes moral and spiritual dilemmas catalyzed by the frenetic post-9/11 cyber age, while love, as it always has, blossoms among the ruins.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • Luminarium is dizzyingly smart and provocative, exploring as it does the state of the present, of technology, of what is real and what is ephemeral. But the thing that separates Luminarium from other books that discuss avatars, virtual reality, and the like is that Alex Shakar is committed throughout with trying, relentlessly, to flat-out explain the meaning of life. This book is funny, and soulful, and very sad, but so intellectually invigorating that you’ll want to read it twice.”

    Dave Eggers

  • “As Shakar suggests in the book, maybe the whole universe is one big computer game and we are all but players plotting a course through the multiple parallel realities this adventure-seeking void generates. It’s a fascinating idea on which to hinge this worthy novel.”

    Seattle Times

  • “A strikingly metaphysical novel that never dematerializes into misty clichés, a book to challenge the mystic and the doubter alike.”

    Washington Post

  • A 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction
  • A 2011 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Book Sense Pick
  • A 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Booklist Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meredith Barnes | 2/15/2014

    " This book blew me away. It's creative in a way that is just astounding. The premise is huge. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jason | 2/7/2014

    " The author's solid knowledge of Eastern religion, specifically Hinduism, is cleverly married to the theme of transcendental experiences brought on by experimental new technology. Add to this the personal and professional crisies of the protagonist and the overall character-driven nature of the plot, and you have a dense but very engaging read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/22/2014

    " A lot of theorizing on the convergence of technology and faith and religion and the internet, so the ideas were interesting, but the actual plot and characters were less so. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tammy | 1/15/2014

    " I had trouble getting into this book at first. The technology aspect might not be for everyone and isn't something I usually gravitate towards. I did start getting more and more into it as I went along, at times having trouble with what was reality and what was not. It shows the strong bond of love between brothers, among a dysfunctional but functioning family. The love and difficulty of letting someone go. And then moving on. In the end I did really enjoy it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aleah Warren | 1/14/2014

    " Didn't get what all the fuss was about...kept waiting for the big revelation, but it never came. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Hayes | 1/13/2014

    " So well written with a compelling plot line. One of those books that after you close it after a session of reading, you can't shake this strange feeling. It requires your attention but also rewards you for it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe Rasmussen | 12/17/2013

    " Luminarium gets off to a very promising start and has lots of interesting ideas kicking around, but sputters to, I felt, an ultimately not-quite-satisfying conclusion. I don't know exactly what a satisfying conclusion to this story would've been. I'd still recommend it as an absolutely worthwhile, though-provoking read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marc Mitzner | 12/1/2013

    " I was very interested to see where this was going to go, but felt a little let down by the end... one of those reads that I couldn't put down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Whitney Sanford | 10/25/2013

    " In my new top ten of all time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 12/22/2012

    " Really wanted to like this one more than I did. But there were just too many strange and unconnected things that I didn't "get" so much. Oh well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eduardo | 6/4/2012

    " One of the most interesting novels I have ever read. I had to go back and re-read whole sections when I finished it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt | 1/5/2012

    " fun if a bit tidy-widy "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Stuart | 11/4/2011

    " Well, I am stuck here on bedrest and my proxy brought me this from the library. I call it a poor man's Murikami. Speaking of which, I need the new Murikami - NOW! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 10/5/2011

    " One of my favorite contemporary writers. This is a compelling, challenging, and very funny novel. See my review in the October issue of the Texas Observer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan | 9/15/2011

    " Not sure why people say this is a hard read. Maybe it's existential, but it's also very entertaining and well written. "

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About the Author
Author Alex Shakar

Alex Shakar’s novel The Savage Girl was selected as a New York Times Notable Book and a Book Sense 76 Pick. His story collection City in Love was selected as an Independent Presses Editors Pick of the Year. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he currently lives in Chicago with his wife, the composer Olivia Block.

About the Narrator

Charles Carroll is an actor and voice-over artist residing in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. He is an avid film buff and stays active in the local film community.