An atmospherically intense love story and a thrilling, fantastical tale of lost souls in peril.
Set in a dream-like European city reminiscent of Barcelona, along a boulevard teeming with artists who perform as living statues, comes the beautiful and frightening story of a man running from his past, a woman consumed by grief, and the forces that pursue them both. As the protagonists reckon with seers offering answers to insoluble questions, neighbors who take evening strolls with the dearly departed, critics who control more than artistic fate, and shoes determined to lead their wearers astray, they come to understand the price of survival and what it means to travel along the ray of the star.
A love story related in the dark, stylish noir of continental cinema and overlaid with a patina of surrealism, this is a novel where friends are also informers, street theater is the lifeblood of culture, and refuge can be found in the belly of a yellow, papier mâché submarine.
2010 PEN USA Literary Award for Fiction Finalist
“Fans of writers like Paul Auster will find much here to like. . . . This [is a] wild walk through Hunt’s haunted fun house.” —Time Out New York
“Hunt told The New York Times . . . that he wrote his fourth novel over the course of ‘one mad six-week sprint’ after visiting Barcelona, turning the city into an elaborate, sunny haunted house where the performance artists serving as living statues are indistinguishable from the ghosts inhabiting the town. . . . Hunt, even when on a mad sprint, has what it takes to create timeless efforts.” —Time Out Chicago
“Elegant. . . . Its chapter-spanning sentences pirouette and backflip but never slip away from their creator, who has adopted a form elastic enough to accommodate associative leaps and acrobatic shifts in time and from one character to another. Scenes of intricate pursuit are orchestrated with the attention and care of a spy thriller.” —Bookforum
“[Hunt’s] sentences flow through the pages like rivers, majestic curves of language with their own currents and eddies of thought. . . . Shut the windows, turn off electronic media, ignore the kids—Ray of the Star demands, and deserves, that kind of attention.” —Los Angeles Review
“Ray of the Star [is] another strong work from one of our most creative writers.” —Quarterly Conversation
“Mesmerizing . . . there’s something here for almost all devotees of the dark and mysterious in life.” —Denver Post
“The world Hunt creates here seems to vibrate with warmth and light.” —January Magazine
“Ray of the Star is a dark love story and a mystery of disloyal friends, using street theater as a living metaphor of human culture where every expression’s an act.” —Denver Books Examiner
“Insanely good.” —Minnesota Reads
“Laird Hunt is at his best when bending the rules, creating abstract worlds where love stories and fantasy co-exist with posthumous visits of neighbors and shoes with minds of their own. [Laird Hunt] depicts lost souls in a way no one else could.” —Angela Stubbs, Nervous Breakdown
“[Ray of the Star] grows steadily more sinister with each passing page. By the end, it is razor-sharp, and fast. It cuts. . . . For as the gears of the story’s clockwork catch, the novel becomes, at once, an oddly charming love story and something else entirely.” —Darby Dixon, Identity Theory
“Arguably the most moving of Hunt’s novels.” —Tobias Carroll, Vol.1 Brooklyn
“Here is a pyrotechnical novel that, with the arrival of the bloody-lipped horrors, propels its protagonist, Harry, through a concatenation of immense, sensuous sentences, on a tour of our modern world that escalates to an unimaginable velocity, among a clutter of clauses that refuse ordinary subordination and so becomes a lens for the meticulous exploration of the sublimity of the banal. Like The Impossibly, The Exquisite, and Indiana, Indiana before it, Ray of the Star is pure, wonderful writing.” —Samuel R. Delany