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Publisher's Summary

For Sol and Liz, competition is everything. On the road or in the lab, it’s all on the line.

As a young professional cyclist in the Tour de France and a geneticist on the brink of a major discovery, success looks within reach for them both - if only they can reach out and grab it.

But everything comes at a cost, whether that’s starting a family or doping to keep up with the team, and soon the worlds of drugs, cycling and family will collide, and they will be forced to decide whether the price of accomplishment is something they can afford.

In this powerful, gripping and blackly comic debut, this young couple must ask themselves: what is it we’re striving for? And what is it worth?

©2018 Joe Mungo Reed (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"A dazzling debut by an exciting and essential new talent: fast, harrowing, compelling, masterfully structured, genuinely moving. Reed is a true stylist and has, like James Salter before him, a gift for making a physical world that is very naturally imbued with rich metaphorical meaning. This novel is a heartening reminder of what happens when a keen intelligence is applied to a rarefied subject." (George Saunders, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo)

"An exceptional debut.... Fast and smart, funny and sad, this is an outstanding sports novel, and Reed is an author to watch." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Joe Mungo Reed’s We Begin Our Ascent is a great debut novel, as affecting as it is smart. It gives us the particular life of competitive biking in all its fascinating complexity, delving into the visceral thrills of the race and the painful vagaries of the body in equal measure. Reed’s precision-cut sentences and darkly funny dialogue bring to mind Don DeLillo’s End Zone." (Dana Spiotta, author of Innocents and Others)

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