A debut novel with the bite of Paul Beatty and the subversive wit of Danzy Senna about a Puerto Rican writer from the Bronx who manipulates his stories by playing the victim, bending the truth until it finally breaks.
by Andrew Boryga
Doubleday, April 2024
(via Sterling Lord Literistic)
Javier Perez is a hustler from a family of hustlers. He learns from an early age how to play the game to his own advantage, how his background—murdered drug-dealer dad, single cash-strapped mom, best friend serving time for gang activity—becomes a key to doors he didn’t even know existed. This kind of story, molded in the right way, is just what college admissions committees are looking for, and a full academic scholarship to a prestigious university brings Javi one step closer to his dream of becoming a famous writer. As a college student, Javi embellishes his life story until there’s not even a kernel of truth left. The only real connection to his past is the occasional letter he trades with his childhood best friend, Gio, who doesn’t seem to care about Javi’s newfound awareness of white privilege or the school-to-prison pipeline. Soon after graduating, a viral essay transforms Javi from a writer on the rise to a journalist at a legendary magazine where the editors applaud his “unique perspective.” But Gio more than anyone knows who Javi really is, and sees through his game. Once he’s released from prison and Javi offers to cut him in on the deal, will he play along with Javi’s charade, or will it all come crumbling down? A sendup of virtue signaling and tear-jerking trauma plots, Victim asks what real diversity looks like and how far one man is willing to go to make his story hit the right notes.
Andrew Boryga grew up in the Bronx and now lives in Miami with his family of four. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and been awarded prizes by Cornell University, The University of Miami, Tin House, The Susquehanna Review, and The Michener Foundation. He’s taught writing to college students, elementary students, and incarcerated adults.