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Publisher's Summary

***2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER***

***THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER***

Winner of the 2021 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize Finalist, 2022 Chautauqua Prize Finalist, Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing Shortlist, and the 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize shortlist

A Read With Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

An Ebony Magazine Publishing Book Club Pick! 

One of Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Fiction | One of Philadelphia Inquirer's Best Books of 2021 | One of Shelf Awareness's Top Ten Fiction Titles of the Year | One of TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books | One of NPR.org's "Books We Love" | EW’s "Guide to the Biggest and Buzziest Books of 2021" | One of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Adults | San Diego Union Tribune—My Favorite Things from 2021 | Writer's Bone's Best Books of 2021 | Atlanta Journal Constitution—Top 10 Southern Books of the Year | One of the Guardian's (UK) Best Ten 21st Century Comic Novels | One of Entertainment Weekly's 15 Books You Need to Read This June | On Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" | One of the New York Post's Best Summer Reading books | One of GMA's 27 Books for June | One of USA Today's 5 Books Not to Miss | One of Fortune's 21 Most Anticipated Books Coming Out in the Second Half of 2021 | One of The Root's PageTurners: It’s Getting Hot in Here | One of Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in 2021

An astounding work of fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole 

In Jason Mott’s Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something much larger and more urgent: Mott’s novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

As these characters’ stories build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it’s also about the nation’s reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind?  Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists, it truly becomes its title.

©2021 Jason Mott (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

Aspen Words Literary Prize, 2021

Carnegie Medal, 2022

Joyce Carol Oates Prize, 2021

National Book Award, 2021

Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, 2021

Hell of a Book more than lives up to its title. Playful, searching, raw, and necessary, this writing, this voice, this novel twisted me up and turned me inside out, dazzled me, surprised me and moved me.” (Charles Yu, author of the National Book Award winner Interior Chinatown

“What a powerful, timely, and provocative novel. Jason's ability to take on deeply important themes with both poignancy and humor makes for an extraordinary emotional rollercoaster of a read, and I tore through this profoundly moving novel in a day but have been thinking about it ever since. Thank you, Jason Mott, for sharing this story with the world.” (Abi Daré, New York Times best-selling author of The Girl with the Louding Voice

“It is a story of love and family. It is powerful...poignant and beautiful and what makes me so excited is I cannot wait to be part of these conversations.... It’s a story of race, family, love, and justice. It’s original and Jason Mott is a talent.” (Jenna Bush Hager, “Read with Jenna”)

What listeners say about Hell of a Book

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Four Stars for Content, One More for...

...Jason Mott's unusual courage in the telling. A metafictional, magically realistic story that's deftly ripped from the front pages of our news and from the endless streams of commentary and talkshow interviews that carpet our cable channels. Two or three story-arcs on their ways to unification on a core set of observations and principles...Mott isn't as didactic as that might make him sound, but he has grabbed the opportunity for a thinly veiled "teaching moment."

"Unputdownable" isn't a neologism a slow reader like me enjoys using, but this hell of a book was just that, gulped down amid an annoyingly hectic schedule in three sittings. Mott fills his novel with inconvenient truths that should make all readers uncomfortable, including those who might be channelling one character who challenges those Mott's truths with a set of his own, to point out one unique, provocative, and chilling scene.

Take a look. You may need to

5 people found this helpful

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As a white mother of a black man….

Stirring. Scary. Real. Please read.

Beautifully written. Well preformed.

Scared the hell out of me for my black son. He has been mine for almost 20 years and although I knew the trials, I have never heard it so succinctly.

A NEED to read.

4 people found this helpful

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More than thought provoking

This book makes you feel. It helps in understanding the helplessness and depth of what is (still) happening today for black males. And the human psyche of everyone. Highly recommend.

3 people found this helpful

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Hmmm.... Low stars and honesty

It surprises me that this book gets such high ratings. I kept sticking with it because of that and because it was a selection for our Book Club. It's so hard to describe how I felt about it while listening, but after I finished, I was glad it was over. Every day was a bit of a struggle for me to get through it. 98% of our group actually hated it. They used the word 'hate' which I find ironic, to be honest. They hated the story, the focus, the writing. Our group has delayed our meeting and we haven't met to talk about it yet because it was so unpopular with everyone -except for the gal who chose it. I hear that she liked it. For me, I can say that fiction is typically not my genre, so I always have to keep an open mind when reading fiction that others recommend to me. Even though I found it at times to be painful and mundane, I did finish the book. I listened to it on Audible because I commute for work and it's convenient. The narration wasn't my cup of tea, to be honest. Also, the constant references to vomit seemed unnecessary, but I guess that may be the point when I think about the context. The story was definitely bouncy and I found myself confused much of the time. Some of the book club ladies have been rumbling and grumbling about it and they are considering wiping it off the list for discussion. I'm voting for a chat on it, but with a request to speak in kindness at the core (if that's possible LOL). Soot is the main character, so there's that. I wish that more of the story didn't include the continuous black references, but maybe I just didn't get why the author beat it all into the ground. IT seemed that there could have more of a story there, but the beating and repeating didn't give me hope that it would improve. One of our book club gals reached out to me to say that IF the author didn't JUST focus on ALL the blackness, it would be much easier to handle. There's no denying that the book was intentionally written to allow the reader to form an opinion about racism or to create a focus about it. -good or bad. That was obvious, but I didn't find a lesson in it at all. The story as a whole, didn't draw me in. I know that it referenced mental illness and maybe that's why most of it was discombobulating. Anyway, that's the only way I can describe it. I would not recommend it. I would remove my star if I could, unfortunately.

1 person found this helpful

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The writing is so good!

The narration was stellar. The author is so crafty. He carries you into his hell so artfully, that you don't even know you're there, until you are. A really deep journey that too many have had to travel for centuries.

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So many truths!

Jason Mott manages to depict all of the experiences of being Black in a few characters and one hell of a story. Loved it! I think I’ll buy a copy of the hardback book to read over and over.

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Hooked!

Hooked from the start! Not finished yet but along for the ride. No question why it has so many good reviews.

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Incredible Story

Initially I had difficulty following the story. I kept asking questions….who is the author? What happened to him? But afterwards I just stopped and listened. It was riveting. I felt it in my heart and soul. The story teller was incredible and the story even better. I highly recommend it.

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Extraordinary

Many excellent and worthy books about race relations and discrimination in our dysfunctional world and this work is a prime example. What is different about this book, however, is the overarching story that takes an approach of individual psychological struggle with a twist of the esoteric that makes it very powerful. You can’t help but fall in love with the characters… Both optimistic and heartbreaking. I have not read a book this good in a while.

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Tragic; beautifully read

This book is tragic and moving. A must-read (or -listen).
The readers do such a good job that I wondered if I might not have been so moved by the book if I had read it instead of listened to it.