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Extended Audio Sample Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (20,158 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marisha Pessl Narrator: Emily Janice Card Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The mesmerizing New York Times bestseller by the author of Night Film

Marisha Pessl’s dazzling debut sparked raves from critics and heralded the arrival of a vibrant new voice in American fiction. At the center of Special Topics in Calamity Physics is clever, deadpan Blue van Meer, who has a head full of literary, philosophical, scientific, and cinematic knowledge. But she could use some friends. Upon entering the elite St. Gallway School, she finds some—a clique of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods. One drowning and one hanging later, Blue finds herself puzzling out a byzantine murder mystery. Nabokov meets Donna Tartt (then invites the rest of the Western Canon to the party) in this novel—with visual aids drawn by the author—that has won over readers of all ages.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The joys of this shrewdly playful narrative lie not only in the high-low darts and dives of Pessl’s tricky plotting, but in her prose, which floats and runs as if by instinct, unpremeditated and unerring…This skylarking book will leave readers salivating for more.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Hip, ambitious, and imaginative…It’s always refreshing to find a writer who takes such joy in the magical tricks words can perform.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Blue’s cross-referencing mania can be surprisingly enjoyable, because Pessl is a vivacious writer who’s figured out how to be brainy without being pedantic.”

    Washington Post

  • “Witty and exuberant…Pessl’s pyrotechnics place her alongside young, eclectic talents like Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Zadie Smith.”


  • “A frisky, smarty-pants debut…An escapist extravaganza packed with literary and pop culture allusions, mischievous characterizations, erotic intrigue, murders, and unstoppable narrative energy.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Extravagant, witty, and dark, Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a sprawling campus novel, an intricate murder mystery, a coming-of-age tale, and a sly satire of intellectualism and academia. Her prose is…vivid, erupting in a freefall of wordplay, wisecracks, encyclopedia tidbits, and a barrage of cultural references…Her enthusiasm for language is a delight.”

    Miami Herald

  • “There is a voice here to like, part Huck Finn, part Holden Caulfield, part Fran Leibowitz, and part Nora Ephron.”


  • “A real novel, one of substance and breadth, with an arresting story and that rarest of delights, a great ending.”


  • “Gripping and dark, funny and poignant.”

    USA Today

  • “Beneath the foam of this exuberant debut is a dark, strong drink.”

    Jonathan Franzen, National Book Award-winning author of The Corrections and Freedom

  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics made me stay up all night reading; in the morning it seemed like one of those parties where everyone is too cool for you but you desperately want to know them anyway. It reminded me of my lost, bad-girl days. I loved this book.”

    Audrey Niffenegger, New York Times bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry

  • A 2006 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2007 PEN/Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award Nominee
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Mary Gilpatrick | 2/11/2014

    " So far, one of the best contemporary novels I have read. She is a master of the English language...pretty impressive, given her age. The only thing I somewhat dislike is her laborious use of metaphor. Other than that, brilliant (so far). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Gary Bruce | 2/2/2014

    " Great story. If you haven't read it you should. Just wondering when she will publish her next book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Lindsey (RiverPlate / addicted2whimsy) | 1/29/2014

    " I loved this book. The writing style is imaginative, with the main character living her life through other books. A quick read, I was disappointed when it was finished. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Briylee Camp | 1/26/2014

    " Good, though not terribly weighty. Also quite long. "

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