“Alexander Maksik’s relentless engagement of ideas and literature and the depiction of his characters makes for one of the most engaged reads I’ve had in years.”—Alice Sebold
"You Deserve Nothing is a bracing, challenging, enthralling debut. It is a novel that rings true from first page to last, refusing the false notion of easy choices, inhabiting, rather, the moral maze of lived life. Here is a gifted writer who understands why the artful telling of a difficult story is a brave and important thing to do. Read this book.”—John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road
“A provocative, constantly surprising, and original novel written with precision and grace. Maksik is unflinching in his exploration of the sexual awakening of the young, and the moral complexity of adulthood. This is a thrilling debut.”—Susanna Moore, author of In the Cut and The Big Girls
William Silver is a talented and charismatic young teacher. His unconventional methods raise eyebrows among his colleagues and superiors, but his students are devoted to him. He brings ideas into the classroom that profoundly affect how they conduct their lives. His discussions of Camus, Faulkner, Sartre, Keats and other kindred souls breathe life into his students’ sense of social justice and their capacities for philosophical and ethical thought. But unbeknownst to his adoring pupils, Silver proves incapable of living up to the ideals he encourages in others. Emotionally scarred by failures in his personal life and driven to distraction by the City of Light’s overpowering carnality and beauty, Silver succumbs to a temptation that will change the course of his life. His fall will render him a criminal in the eyes of some, and human, all too human, in the eyes of others.
In Maksik’s stylish prose, Paris is sensual, dazzling and dangerously seductive. It serves as a fitting backdrop for a dramatic tale about the tension between desire and action, and about the complex relationship that exists between our public and private selves.
Alexander Maksik is the author of the novels You Deserve Nothing (Europa, 2011) and A Marker to Measure Drift (Knopf, 2013), which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book, as well as a finalist for both the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and Le Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger.