Tao Lin gives a bold portrait of a writer working to balance all his lives—artist, son, loner—as he spins the ordinary into something monumental. Leave Society is an engrossing, hopeful novel about life, fiction, and where the two blur together.
In 2014, a novelist named Li leaves Manhattan to visit his parents in Taipei for ten weeks. He doesn’t know it yet, but his life will begin to deepen and complexify on this trip. As he flies between these two worlds—year by year, over four years—he will flit in and out of optimism, despair, loneliness, sanity, bouts of chronic pain, and drafts of a new book. He will incite and temper arguments, uncover secrets about nature and history, and try to understand how to live a meaningful life as an artist and a son. But how to fit these pieces of his life together? Where to begin? Or should he leave society altogether?
Exploring everyday events and scenes—waiting rooms, dog walks, family meals—while investigatively venturing to the edges of society, where culture dissolves into mystery, Lin shows what it is to write a novel in real time. Illuminating and deeply felt, as it builds toward a stunning, if unexpected, romance, Leave Society is a masterly story about life and art at the end of history.
A VINTAGE ORIGINAL
“No one writes like Tao Lin. He is so quietly funny, and surprising, and strange, in the way he writes sentences, in the way that he thinks. Leave Society is transcendent in its honesty and is even transcendent in its transcendency, by which I mean Tao Lin remains transparent even while delving into subject matter difficult to render on the page, like drug experiences and ponderings into the origins of philosophical systems in human societies since time immemorial. He makes the mysterious mundane and the mundane mysterious. But the book is so very readable and accessible and fun, even while exploring pain and family relationships, and yes the question about remaining a part of a society that can and will bring you harm in countless invisible ways, that has been designed to exploit the earth’s natural resources including its people. I love this novel.” —Tommy Orange, author of There There
“Leave Society is hilarious about serious things, and serious about hilarious things. This is a very special and beautiful book.” —Brad Phillips, author of Essays and Fictions
“Leave Society is a warm, funny, hearteningly nonconformist book that changed the way I think about natural health, wellbeing, and the great mystery. It’s a beautiful work of art. I loved it.” —Melissa Broder, author of Milk Fed
“Leave Society is a novel I wanted to keep living in long after it ended. The characters are some of my favorites in contemporary fiction. Subversive, neurotic, and artful; it read exactly as I want a Tao Lin novel to read.” —Chloe Caldwell, author of Women and I’ll Tell You in Person