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The Flamethrowers: A Novel Audiobook, by Rachel Kushner Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Rachel Kushner Narrator: Christina Traister Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2013 ISBN: 9781469287119
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The year is 1975 and Reno—so-called because of the place of her birth—has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world—artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art. Reno meets a group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, she begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the semi-estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro’s family home in Italy, Reno falls in with members of the radical movement that overtook Italy in the seventies. Betrayal sends her reeling into a clandestine undertow.

The Flamethrowers is an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist. At its center is Kushner’s brilliantly realized protagonist, a young woman on the verge. Thrilling and fearless, this is a major American novel from a writer of spectacular talent and imagination.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Kushner is rapidly emerging as a thrilling and prodigious novelist.”

    Jonathan Franzen, New York Times bestselling author of Freedom

  • The Flamethrowers is that rare thing, a novel that uses recent history not as a picturesque backdrop, but as a way of interrogating the present. Kushner’s urgent prose and psychological acuity make this one of the most compelling and enjoyable novels I’ve read this year.”

    Hari Kunzru, New York Times bestselling author of Gods Without Men

  • “Rachel Kushner is a novelist of the very first order. The Flamethrowers follows Telex from Cuba as a masterful work.”

    Robert Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Outerbridge Reach

  • “I want to recommend this stunning book to everyone I know.”

    Karen Russell, New York Times bestselling author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove

  • “Vividly drawn…[A] keenly observed story.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Rachel Kushner is an unbelievably exciting writer, a writer of urgent and beautiful sentences and novels that are vast in their ambition and achievement. I finished it months ago, but The Flamethrowers—startling, radiant—still haunts me.”, editorial review

  • The Flamethrowers unfolds on a bigger, brighter screen than nearly any recent American novel I can remember. It plays out as if on Imax, or simply higher-grade film stock…[Kushner has] a sensibility that’s on constant alert for crazy, sensual, often ravaged beauty.”

    New York Times

  • “A white-hot ember of a book.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “On lines stretched tight between satire and eulogy, [Kushner] strolls above the self-absorbed terrain of the New York art scene in the 1970s, providing a vision alternately intimate and elevated…a set piece of New York night life that’s a daze of comedy, poignancy, and violence…Hang on: This is a trip you don’t want to miss.”

    Washington Post

  • “Brilliant and exhilarating…Kushner fearlessly tackles art, death, and social unrest…[A] relentless and immersive novel.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Exhilarating…It’s impossible not to be pulled in by the author’s sense of the period’s vitality…The novel’s brilliance is in its understanding of art’s relationship to risk and in its portrait of Reno’s—and New York’s—age of innocence.”


  • “Life, gazed at with exemplary intensity over hundreds of pages and thousands of sentences precision-etched with detail—that’s what The Flamethrowers feels like. That’s what it is. And it could scarcely be better. The Flamethrowers is a political novel, a feminist novel, a sexy novel, and a kind of thriller…Virtually every page contains a paragraph that merits—and rewards—rereading.”


  • The Flamethrowers is scintillatingly alive and also alive to artifice. It ripples with stories, anecdotes, set-piece monologues, crafty egotistical tall tales, and hapless adventures…Kushner watches the New York art world of the late seventies with sardonic precision and lancing humor, using Reno’s reportorial hospitality to fill her pages with lively portraits and outrageous cameos…It succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive.”

    New Yorker

  • “Kushner has forged an incandescently detailed, cosmopolitan, and propulsively dramatic tale of creativity and destruction.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A novel of art and politics but also of bikes and speed…Kushner writes well and plunges us deeply into the disparate worlds of the New York City art scene, European political radicalism, and the exhilarating rush of motorcycles.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Kushner’s psychological explorations of her characters are incisive, the novel is peppered with subtle 1970s details, and it bursts with you-are-there depictions of its time and places.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Christina Traister’s narration reflects twenty-one-year-old Reno's charged emotions as she moves to New York City and the 1970s Greenwich Village art scene…Traister easily handles the flashbacks highlighting Sandro’s father’s life…Traister’s performance makes Kushner’s superb prose credible, beautifully reflecting the art world and political upheavals of the period.”


  • A New York Times bestseller
  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books in 2013 for Fiction
  • A Los Angeles Times bestseller
  • A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2013
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2013
  • A Salon Magazine Best Book Award for 2013
  • A Slate Magazine Best Book of 2013
  • A 2013 Washington Post Notable Book
  • A 2013 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A 2013 Time Magazine Best Book for Fiction
  • A Vogue Pick for 2013
  • An O Magazine Best Book of 2013
  • One of the New Yorker’s Best Books of 2013
  • A 2013 National Book Award Finalist

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About the Author

Rachel Kushner’s debut novel, Telex from Cuba, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, winner of the California Book Award, and a New York Times bestseller and Notable Book. Her fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Believer, Artforum, Bookforum, Fence, the Paris Review, and Grand Street. She lives in Los Angeles.

About the Narrator

Christina Traister, Earphones Award–winning narrator, has worked nationally as a professional actor for over fifteen years with a career focusing on classical theater. She teaches acting, voice, and stage combat in the Department of Theatre at Michigan State University.