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The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Vol. 2


“A sweeping and epic novel [that] will someday be recognized as a novel of the first rank, the kind of monumental work Italo Calvino called ‘encyclopedic’ in the way it sweeps up history into a comprehensive and deeply textured pattern.” – The New York Times Book Review

Fearing a death sentence, Octavian and his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, escape through rising tides and pouring rain to find shelter in British-occupied Boston. Sundered from all he knows — the College of Lucidity, the rebel cause — Octavian hopes to find safe harbor. Instead, he is soon to learn of Lord Dunmore’s proclamation offering freedom to slaves who join the counterrevolutionary forces.

In Volume II of his unparalleled masterwork, M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian’s experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him, thrusting him into intense battles and tantalizing him with elusive visions of liberty. Ultimately, this astonishing narrative escalates to a startling, deeply satisfying climax, while reexamining our national origins in a singularly provocative light.

Michael L. Printz Honor Book

Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor

New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year Best Books of the Year

ALA (American Library Association) Best Books for Young Adults

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books – Bulletin Blue Ribbons

Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice

Booklist Editors’ Choice

The Horn Book Fanfare

Parents’ Choice Awards Silver Honor

NECBA Top Ten (New England Children’s Bookselling Advisory Council)

Junior Library Guild Selection

“Awe-inspiring.” – Booklist, starred review

“With an eye trained to the hypocrisies and conflicted loyalties of the American Revolution, Anderson resoundingly concludes the finely nuanced bildungsroman begun in his National Book Award-winning novel.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A fast-moving plot…a satisfying finality to the story.” – The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

“Epic quality.” – The Horn Book, starred review

“One of the few volumes to fully comprehend the paradoxes of the struggle for liberty in America.” – Kirkus Review, starred review

“A riveting book…Highly recommended.” – Library Media Connection

“Fascinating historical fiction…a thoughtful and timeless examination of the nature of humanity.” – School Library Journal, starred review

“Places Octavian at the heart of…harrowing historical episodes underscoring the bleakness of a tale that is ultimately about the melancholy predicament of a brilliantly educated and appealing black man in a world that has no place for him.” – The Wall Street Journal

“A singular achievement, a work of historical fiction that feels truly original and seems destined to endure.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Exceptionally interesting and imaginative.” – The Guardian

“A meaty and provocative conclusion.” – Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Anderson’s powerful and unforgettable novel is a vital contribution to the ongoing national conversation on the subject [slavery] and its effects on into the present day.” – Los Angeles Times

“Readers end the stories awed by the overwhelming nature of the obstacles the characters face and by their persistent strength as survivors.” – The Chicago Tribune

“A remarkable literary achievement… Both profound and profoundly moving.” – Globe and Mail (Canada)

“An encyclopedic, momentous work. Anderson creates whole his pre-revolutionary world…a powerfully self-critical novel by an American writer whose intellectual and imaginative engagement is as vibrant as his considerable story-telling capacities.” – Toronto Star

“It’s a truly courageous undertaking, ambitious in its scope in ways unparalleled by any other author working in this genre.” – The Houston Chronicle

“Great, tragic, sometimes even darkly humorous…” – KLIATT

“A wonderfully written story with immersive descriptions of life during the Revolution.” – Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

“Convincingly defies convention, casting the British in a fairly favorable light, showing that justice and injustice are determined by perspective.” – ForeWord Magazine

“The riveting saga…poses questions about our nation’s hard-won liberty that are as illuminating as they are disturbing.” – St. Louis Post Dispatch

“Anderson brilliantly crafts the bulk of the novel as Octavian’s narrative written in the elegant prose of the period.” – Buffalo News

“Continues a coming of age story that mines the paradoxes of the national birth. Its exploration of destiny and racial identity is deemed especially timely after the historic presidential election.” – Columbus Dispatch

“An immensely moving sequel.” – Rocky Mountain News

“Critics have called Anderson’s fast paced action adventure – with a conscience – a breathtaking tour de force.” – San Antonio ExpressNews

M. T. Anderson discusses writing the Octavian Nothing Books. Also, click here for an Octavian Reading Group Guide.