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The Spectators

A Novel
Narrated by: Paul Boehmer, Nancy Linari
Length: 12 hrs and 46 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A shocking crime triggers a media firestorm for a controversial talk show host in this provocative novel - a story of redemption, a nostalgic portrait of New York City, and a searing indictment of our culture of spectacle.

One of the The New York Times’ “10 Books to Watch for in April” 

“Jennifer duBois is a brilliant writer.” (Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove)

Talk show host Matthew Miller has made his fame by shining a spotlight on the most unlikely and bizarre secrets of society, exposing them on live television in front of millions of gawking viewers. However, the man behind The Mattie M Show remains a mystery - both to his enormous audience and to those who work alongside him every day. 

But when the high school students responsible for a mass shooting are found to be devoted fans, Mattie is thrust into the glare of public scrutiny, seen as the wry, detached herald of a culture going downhill and going way too far. Soon, the secrets of Mattie’s past as a brilliant young politician in a crime-ridden New York City begin to push their way to the surface.

In her most daring and multidimensional novel yet, Jennifer duBois vividly portrays  the heyday of gay liberation in the '70s and the grip of the AIDS crisis in the '80s, alongside a backstage view of '90s television in an age of moral panic. DuBois explores an enigmatic man’s downfall through the perspectives of two spectators - Cel, Mattie’s skeptical publicist, and Semi, the disillusioned lover from his past.  

With wit, heart, and crackling intelligence, The Spectators examines the human capacity for reinvention - and forces us to ask ourselves what we choose to look at, and why.

Praise for The Spectators:

"With The Spectators, duBois is staking out larger literary territory. The new novel is full of small pleasures that accumulate as proof that this writer knows her stuff.... DuBois’s mastery of...details earns our trust as she expands The Spectators into a billowing meditation on the responsibility of public figures to contribute something worthwhile to the culture. Although her book takes place decades ago, duBois’s message has a contemporary urgency as well.” (The New York Times

“Heart-rending and visceral... DuBois’s language is dexterous, and her pacing impressive.... The Spectators is a treatise on the media’s power and a finely wrought example of intimate pain.” (USA Today)

“In addition to being a well-spun epic, The Spectators is an examination of the spectacle-driven culture we’re all part of.” (Refinery29)

©2019 Jennifer duBois (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

The Spectators is magnificent, a richly textured epic suffused in heartbreak yet spring-loaded with vitality. Jennifer duBois is among the finest writers of our generation and this is her most accomplished novel.” (Anthony Marra, author of The Tsar of Love and Techno)

“Another breathtaking novel from one of our most brilliant writers.... No one writes about the contradictions of American society and the foibles of the human heart with such incisive wit and sensitivity. The Spectators is a tense and propulsive exploration of how easily we can let our best intentions slip away. As secrets are uncovered, Jennifer duBois reminds us that to truly see, without apology or artifice, is itself an act of compassion. This novel pulses with intelligence and heart.” (Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of Night at the Fiestas

The Spectators is Jennifer duBois’s ambitious and assured novel that strives to answer the question: What tragedies deserve to be told? Each sentence is more beautiful than the next, every line of dialogue sharper and funnier. I savored it all.” (Mandy Berman, author of Perennials

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