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The Burning


When an acquaintance suggests a wild weekend in Las Vegas, struggling academic Logan Smith thinks it might be just the sort of reckless fun he needs. What he doesn’t expect is a lesson in blackjack from a beautiful and volatile croupier named Dallas Cole, resulting in a night that will change his life forever. Before he knows it, Logan has exchanged the sedate atmosphere of Philadelphia for the searing heat of the desert, a rollercoaster marriage, and a radical new economic theory that questions his fundamental beliefs about the world.

Critical Responses to The Burning


‘Legendre’s brilliantly assured first novel is about gambling in Las Vegas, academic life in Arizona, an assault on liberal economic theory, human desire and saving the planet. That’s a lot of life packed into one book, and Legendre pulls it off with an insouciant lightness of touch. Sex, gambling and saving the world in the desert? The Burning could be the coolest novel of the year.’  Sunday Telegraph


‘Legendre's muscular prose is astonishingly confident for a first-time novelist . . . thrillingly realised, electrifying.’  Time Out


‘Incredible quality . . . it compares favourably with Zadie Smith’s On Beauty . . . Like many authors, from George Eliot to Ian Fleming, Legendre is clearly fascinated by gambling, but unlike most he manages to capture the reality of everything from craps to poker slot machines without romanticising this way of life. . .What’s most impressive about The Burning is that as well as being one of the few novels of ideas which actually gives the reader something to think about beyond the standard nihilism usually found in such books, Legendre is brilliant at three-dimensional descriptions, bringing to life everything from soda cans to distant constellations. His narrative grip never slackens, even in moments of dense economic theory, and The Burning provides enormous emotional and intellectual satisfaction. It seems unlikely there will be a better debut this year.'  Independent on Sunday


‘Among the possible heirs to Roth’s and McInerney’s crowns . . . top marks for originality and style.’  Seven Supplement (Sunday Telegraph)


‘A novel that mixes a spirited challenge to our faith in economic growth with a full-blooded tale of infidelity and romantic redemption. . . The resulting emotional pyrotechnics are handled with a deftness and confidence that are rare in a first-time novelist. . . The love affair between Logan and Keris is rendered with remarkable feeling and credibility. But the novel’s greatest accomplishment is Dallas, a woman of great passions and considerable guilt who is nevertheless being burned alive by an economic system that sees human beings as little more than fuel for its mindless and ultimately self-destructive growth.'  New Statesman


‘An excellent, original novel with some extraordinary flourishes.'  The Times


‘This is a debut novel of considerable sophistication and intelligence . . . Legendre’s boldness in taking fiction into the realm of social sciences is to be applauded. .. the writing is as vivid as it is generous with ideas and the characters are superbly realised.’  Ludovic Hunter-Tilney, Financial Times


‘A novel that grips from the very first page, yet the story it weaves is as thought-provoking as it is compelling.’  Observer


Muscular prose and heady intellectual banter combine in this exceptionally fine debut . . . . Legendre weds a provocative novel of ideas to an affecting story of romantic trials and tribulations.'  Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist


‘Legendre’s impressive first novel derives much of its strength from traditional matters – adultery, divorce, betrayal, theft, academic rivalry – but much also from a sense that what is at stake goes beyond the personal . . . This is a book steeped in dualities; the chill of the desert at night is placed against the air-conditioned rooms where thinkers promulgate theories that ignore realities.'  Independent


‘The macho prose of Thomas Legendre’s powerful debut places it in the mainstream of American fiction, yet it carries important and radical ideas . . . Fast-paced and muscular, with an urgent message at its core, The Burning is both entertaining and intellectually challenging.'  Daily Mail


‘Legendre’s prose has an easy confidence and he handles his material deftly.'  Scottish Review of Books

2010 - present
2010 - present
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