Set in an international high school in Paris, You Deserve Nothing is told in three voices: that of Will, a charismatic young teacher who brings ideas alive in the classroom in a way that profoundly affects his students; Gilad, one of Will's students who has grown up behind compound walls in places like Dakar and Dubai, and for whom Paris and Will's senior seminar are the first heady tastes of freedom; and Marie, the beautiful, vulnerable senior with whom, unbeknowst to Gilad, Will is having an illicit affair. Utterly compelling, brilliantly written, You Deserve Nothing is a captivating tale about teachers and students, of moral uncertainties and the coming of adulthood. It heralds the arrival of a brilliant new voice in fiction.
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Alexander Maksik is the recipient of a Truman Capote fellowship and a Teaching/Writing fellowship from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has been published in many literary magazines. This is his first novel.Review:
In the wrong hands this novel of ideas, examining the anxiety of choice for three overlapping lives, could easily fall into cliche. The achievement here, then, is that Maksik makes such a familiar theme so compelling...While comparisons with Donna Tartt and J D Salinger are apt given the high school setting and philosophical digressions, it's Ian McEwan who comes most readily to mind. Maksik's Paris is brilliantly sketched and demythologized. YOU DESERVE NOTHING arrives with a fanfare of acclaim. Alexander Maksik proves himself a worthy recipient of this attention * TLS * 'A compelling debut' * Stylist * 'You Deserve Nothing is a bravura performance by a new voice who has taken the existential squiggle of classroom life and imposed upon it order with a sleight of hand worthy of Sartre' * The Irish Examiner * 'You Deserve Nothing ... is the enduring story of the clash of the personal moral codes we mouth and the private and hidden imperatives that compel us. Alexander Maksik depicts it fearlessly--and brilliantly, with graceful exactitude' * The Daily Beast * 'What Maksik has created with You Deserve Nothing is a story that is as fresh as it is old; a story of complicated emotions, simply told. It deftly conjures the very best of dazzling teen inspiration as well as the very worst of crippling teen alienation, while remaining a very adult novel. It reminds the reader how powerful ideas and literature can be - not just by creating a memorably complex character in Will, but with some stunning prose of its own as well' * Independent on Sunday * A visceral, compelling exploration of teenage sexual awakening and adult morality * Easy Living * Beautifully written...Eschewing pat morality, the novel shows that emotional truths are complicated for these flawed characters * Marie Claire * An intelligent and considered debut, the novel invites you to walk around the lives of others, seeing the darker sights of their psyche against the backdrop of the city of lights without prompting judgement or indicating blame. A truly outstanding debut. I would recommend this to anyone as it really is a fantastic read. I don't give stars, but if I did this would have five * The Book and Biscuit * The quality of the writing is excellent, the three narrative voices (one the teacher, Will; one a female student, Marie; and one a male student, Gilad) are all pleasingly distinct and the Parisian setting adds another layer to the narrative. But where the story earns more than the four star rating for me is the exploration of the philosophical issues that so interested the, mainly French, writers that Will is teaching his students, namely Sartre and Camus * Bookbag * 'Intelligent and intellectual, this is both a tribute to brilliant teachers and a cautionary tale of their imperfections' * Kirkus Reviews * This debut novel comes garlanded with praise from it's editor, Alice Sebold...She knows a page-turning hit when she reads it and has every right to be excited: this is a hugely satisfying and thought-provoking novel...The story, of a charismatic teacher who becomes overly embroiled in the lives of his students at a Parisian international school, may seem hackneyed. In Maksik's hands, however, it takes on the quality of a thriller. There are echoes of The Secret History but You Deserve Nothing may be even more immediately appealing... * Daily Mail * 'Superb' * Sunday Times * 'Rivetingly plotted and beautifully written' * New York Times * 'An extraordinary read' * Viv Groksop, Red Magazine * 'YOU DESERVE NOTHING is a powerful, absorbing novel and Alexander Maksik is an unusually gifted writer' * Tom Perrotta Author of Little Children, Election and The Leftovers * 'Alexander Maksik deftly evokes the beauty and pathos of Paris. The story of Will, Gilad and Marie, each compelled towards his or her own moral and sexual awakening, is at once dark and luminous. This is a book to be read all at once with a glass of wine in a cafe or a cup of tea while tucked safely in bed' * A.M. Homes * 'The phrase 'brilliant debut' is much overused in our world, but Alexander Maksik's You Deserve Nothing is truly one of those rarest of creatures, a brilliant debut. Maksik's superb novel takes on the most fundamental question--how are we supposed to live?--with a freshness and urgency that are nothing short of masterful. This is a gorgeous, troubling, unflinching book, as honest and rich a depiction of life's contradictions as I've encountered in many years' * Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevarra * 'The best stories are by nature confrontational, implicitly asking readers to assess their own lives and assumptions, asking readers not only what they might do in difficult situations but more so what they are doing daily and what it all means. By this yardstick, Alexander Maksik's first novel, You Deserve Nothing, is a thoroughly engaging, passionate, and challenging read that finely walks the line between morality and amorality. In a society, and at a time, when individual identity is so closely tied to collective narcissism, Maksik's novel asks what are the true sources of self-worth? And how shall we live?' * Tom Jenks, editor, Narrative magazine * 'A provocative, constantly surprising, and original novel written with precision and grace. Maksik is unflinching in his exploration of the sexual awakening of the young, and the moral complexity of adulthood. This is a thrilling debut.' * Susanna Moore author of IN THE CUT and THE BIG GIRLS * 'Alexander Maksik's You Deserve Nothing is a bracing, challenging, enthralling debut. It is a novel that rings true from first page to last, refusing the false notion of easy choices, inhabiting, rather, the moral maze of lived life. Here is a gifted writer who understands why the artful telling of a difficult story is a brave and important thing to do. Read this book.' * John Burnham Schwartz, Author of The Commoner, Reservation Road, and Northwest Corner * 'One of the most engaged reads I've had in years. YOU DESERVE NOTHING is that rare and fearless debut novel that feels like anything but.' * Alice Sebold, author of THE LOVELY BONES *
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