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a thousand and one nights

"Sometimes a novel's premise is so out there that it perversely manages to feel like real life, with all its stranger-than-fiction twists and turns. Such is the case with Lara Tupper's debut, A Thousand and One Nights, an alternately hilarious and poignant look at the unsettled state of one young woman trying to make it outside the socially sanctioned college-office-marriage trajectory. Our heroine, a plucky (but not annoyingly so) 22-year-old named Karla, drifts first into a job as an entertainer on the MS Sound of Music cruise ship, then into an affair with a shuffleboard supervisor/nightly musical performer named Jack. When Jack suggests extending their fling to an on-land professional partnership, they quickly embark on a surreal showbiz circuit of hotel bars in such far-flung locales as China and Dubai. Along the way, Karla begins to question her adventure-for-adventure's-sake personal ethos, as well as suffer from the toll exacted by faking enthusiasm for a living. Both an off-kilter take on the conventional coming-of-age tale and a sly commentary on the underbelly of celebrity culture, this truly original book is basically uncategorizable—blissfully so." --Elle.com

"Wonderful and incisive, A Thousand and One Nights tells us in a new way what it means to be young and American. Tupper casts a keen, intelligent eye on the contemporary world, its multitude of fakeries and deceits, providing us with a witty, poignant, wholly worthwhile read." - Elizabeth Strout

"This is a moving and accomplished first novel.” - Jim Shepard

"Lara Tupper has written an intriguing, often funny, and richly atmospheric novel that follows a young, hipper-than-that couple singing their same-old songs on cruise ships and in the luxury hotels of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Shanghai. It is sharply observed, fresh and authentic in its vision, poignant in its depiction of a couple's willed façade, and great fun to read. Its keen-eyed view of the strange and cushioned world of entertainers makes for a one-of-a-kind book, fascinating and honest." - Joan Silber