We Begin Our Ascent

We Begin Our Ascent

“[A] small, tight bud of a first novel…You hotly flip this book’s pages.” —The New York Times
“A dazzling debut by an essential new talent.” —George Saunders
“Unforgettable…a powerful new literary voice.” —Mary Karr

One of the Best Books of the Summer—as chosen by Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, The Daily Beast, Kirkus Reviews, Good Housekeeping, Christian Science Monitor, AFAR, and Bookish.

Sol and Liz are a couple on the cusp. He’s a professional cyclist in the Tour de France, a workhorse but not yet a star. She’s a geneticist on the brink of a major discovery, either that or a loss of funding. They’ve just welcomed their first child into the world, and their bright future lies just before them—if only they can reach out and grab it.

But as Liz’s research slows, as Sol starts doping, their dreams grow murkier and the risks graver. Over the whirlwind course of the Tour, they enter the orbit of an extraordinary cast of conmen and aspirants, who draw the young family ineluctably into the depths of an illegal drug smuggling operation. As Liz and Sol flounder to discern right from wrong, up from down, they are forced to decide: What is it we’re striving for? And what is it worth?

We Begin Our Ascent dances nimbly between tragic and comic, exploring the cost of ambition and the question of what gives our lives meaning. Reed melds the powerful themes of great marital dramas like Revolutionary Road with the humor, character, and heart of a George Saunders collection. Throughout, we’re drawn inside the cycling world and treated to the brilliant literary sports-writing of modern classics like The Art of Fielding or End Zone.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501169205 | 
  • June 2018
List Price $35.00 (price may vary by retailer)

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About the Author

Joe Mungo Reed
Photo © Jo Hanley

Joe Mungo Reed

Joe Mungo Reed was born in London and raised in Gloucestershire, England. He has a master’s in philosophy and politics at the University of Edinburgh and an MFA in creative writing at Syracuse University, where he won the Joyce Carol Oates Award in Fiction. He is the author of the novel, We Begin Our Ascent, and his short stories have appeared in VQR and Gigantic and anthologized in Best of Gigantic. He is currently living in Edinburgh, UK.

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