Alex Shakar

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Alex Shakar is an American novelist and short story writer. His novel Luminarium (Soho Press, 2011) received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction.[1] His first novel, The Savage Girl, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book.,[2] was a Book Sense 76 Pick,[3] and has been translated into six foreign languages.[4]


Shakar grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he attended Stuyvesant High School. He graduated from Yale University in 1990. He was a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, and earned his Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He currently lives in Chicago and teaches fiction writing as an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Shakar's novel Luminarium received acclaim for its "penetrating look at the uneasy intersection of technology and spirituality" [5] (Publishers Weekly). Set primarily in New York City, Luminarium follows Fred Brounian, a former co-CEO of a software company devoted to creating Utopian virtual worlds, as he copes with circumstances beyond his control. As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Fred finds himself moving back in with his parents after his company is seized by a military contracting conglomerate and his brother falls into a coma. He soon finds himself participating in a neurological study that promises "peak" experiences and a newfound spiritual outlook on life. As the study progresses, lines between subject and experimenter blur, and reality becomes increasingly unstable. It won the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Fiction), was selected as an Editor's Choice by the New York Times Book Review, and was ranked as among the best and most notable books of the year by numerous reviewers and media outlets including The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, and NPR.[6]

In 2001, Shakar’s first novel, The Savage Girl, was released to broad critical acclaim, garnering comparisons to Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Neal Stephenson, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Tom Wolfe. Set in a fictional American metropolis, the story follows its protagonist, Ursula Van Urden, as she trains as a trendspotter, attempts to help her schizophrenic fashion model sister Ivy, and understand a homeless girl she calls the “savage girl,” who lives in a city park. Among the book’s themes are consumerism and cultural schizophrenia.

In 1996, Shakar won the National Fiction Competition and the Independent Presses Editors' "Pick of the Year" for his first collection of short stories, City in Love. Set in a mythical version of New York City, the book reimagines transformation myths of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The stories are innovative in style and structure, and thematically concerned with the isolation and longing for connection of modern city dwellers.

Publications by Alex Shakar[edit]

Luminarium. Soho Press, August 2011.[7] ISBN 1-56947-975-5 ISBN 978-1569479759

The Savage Girl. Harper Collins, 2001. ISBN 0-06-620987-0 ISBN 978-0066209876

City in Love. Fiction Collective 2, 1996. ISBN 1-57366-023-X ISBN 978-1573660235


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