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Novelist's 'Luminarium' lighting up the literary atmosphere

Alex Shakar
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Rembert Block

University of Illinois creative writing professor Alex Shakar's second novel will be released Aug. 23.

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8/22/2011 | Dusty Rhodes, Arts and Humanities Editor | 217-333-0568; rhodes8@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — “Luminarium” – a novel by University of Illinois creative writing professor Alex Shakar – already is garnering glowing reviews. It will be released Tuesday (Aug. 23).

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Vogue called the novel “wonderfully corrosive satire” and included “Luminarium” among a mere half-dozen late-summer recommended reads. The Chicago Tribune said the book “fizzes with ideas, social concerns, and metaphoric splendor” and called it “encompassing, caring, provocative, and funny.” Publisher’s Weekly, in a starred review, called Shakar’s prose “sharp and hilarious,” concluding that “this radiant work leads you from the unreal to the real so convincingly that you begin to let go of the distinction.”

Published by Soho Press, the novel follows high-tech entrepreneur Fred, whose identical twin and erstwhile co-CEO lies comatose in a research hospital. Fred’s quest for spiritual comfort takes him from an experimental treatment in the neural studies department at New York University to an Orlando military/entertainment complex on a journey that the Tribune said “astutely dramatizes moral and spiritual dilemmas catalyzed by the frenetic
post-9/11 cyber age.”

“Luminarium” is Shakar’s second novel. His first, “The Savage Girl,” was a 2002 New York Times Notable Book and inspired a Chicago Tribune critic to compare Shakar to George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Tom Wolfe.

A launch party for the book is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Lush, 1257 S. Halsted St., in Chicago.

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