The Vices by Lawrence Douglas


A New York Magazine Best Book of 2011

A New Statesman Book of the Year, 2011

“In its deft exploration of the way identity, especially Jewish identity, is constructed and performed, The Vices does justice to its elegant Nabokovian inspiration.” —Adam Kirsch, The New Republic and Tablet Magazine

“How can one of our funniest writers also be one of our finest novelists?....As dazzlingly constructed as it is limpidly told, The Vices is a duplicitous delight…” —Ed Park, Bookforum

“ Smart...always fascinating….The novel’s biggest concern is how we construct personal narratives that accommodate slippery and unsteady acts of memory.” —Times Literary Supplement

“Douglas delivers a probing and skillful examination of the conundrums of identity…masterfully kaleidoscopic…[The Vices] presents the reader with a stunning new vista.” —Publishers Weekly
“An intriguing, thought-provoking exploration of a man desperately unhappy to be living his own life.” —Booklist
“Darkly comic…[Douglas] masterly crafts a family portrait, where the paint has cracked to reveal human truths.” —Royal Young,

“Douglas elaborates on the inherent tensions that make up the contested borders of identity…This mystery is deceptively philosophical and introspective.” —Library Journal

“This brilliant, funny book will appeal to lovers of Jewish fiction and those who hunger to unravel mysteries.” —ForeWord Reviews

“…a fascinating and entertaining examination of personal fictions, and the seductive, dangerous power they hold.”—Jordan Koluch, Ploughshares

“While there are mysteries galore in The Vices, it’s actually a literary novel. Or a philosophy treatise. Or an abnormal psychology monograph. Or... Oh, what difference does it make? Oliver and his family and friends are so outrageously entertaining in their neurotic complexities that you’ll find yourself enjoying every perverse one of them, whatever they do or to whom they do it.”—Mystery Scene

“This is a book that will make you laugh out loud, cringe with awkwardness and think. Douglas writes an intelligent story that has the perfect balance of humor and tragedy. The wonder of it all is that even when the story is at its lightest, you will always be aware of the underpinnings of pain.”—Elizabeth Provenzano, The Examiner

“Lawrence Douglas's The Vices is as elegantly crafted a novel as I have read all year. Filled with quirky yet believable characters, this is a literary mystery that skillfully explores themes of identity.” —

“…this is an intriguing and complex study of one troubled man by another. This multi-layered novel comes highly recommended…” —

“Douglas has crafted an intriguing, fascinating hall of mirrors, an elegant, entertaining literary suspense about the tragedies of the 20th century and its lingering aftermath.”—

“…an examination of obsession and identity, of forgery and fraud. And it’s wrapped up in a delicious package of bright language and fascinating characters, chock full of wit and thrills, layered with humor and melancholy.”—

“The gratifications of The Vices are both redolent and wispy. Douglas keeps us interested in the arc of Oliver’s life while teasing us with glimpses of the narrator’s shallowness, unreliability, or inability to live up to his subject. Douglas’ impressive artifice is sturdy enough to give us a credible experience of a mind but sufficiently skewed to let us try to fill the gaps.”—

“A resplendently accomplished work.”—Cynthia Ozick, author of Foreign Bodies

“At its core a mystery, The Vices is a witty, provocative, and devilishly entertaining book. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes wildly comic, Lawrence Douglas’s latest novel plays yearning against satisfaction, prestige against authenticity, and, ultimately, the desire to be someone else against the difficulty of inhabiting self.” —Sabina Murray, author of The Caprices and Forgery

“Though The Vices unfolds the complexity of its whodunit with an appealing urbanity and wryness, its central virtue is the compassionate intelligence of its depiction of pain: the anguish and secret costs of self-reinvention, and in the face of history’s miseries and deceits, the unexpected consolations of uncertainty.” —Jim Shepard, author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway
“Crisply told and vigorously compelling. Douglas’s bright sense of humor camouflages but does not ultimately conceal his haunting story’s menacing undertow.” —Brad Leithauser, author of The Art Student’s War

“Charming and exquisite, The Vices is an urbane comedy imbued with the eccentric verve of a Wes Anderson film and the piquant nostalgia of Brideshead Revisted.  It’s also a gripping tale of fraud, compromise, and the inventive ways we survive the nightmare of history.” —Zachary Lazar, author of Sway