Composed in propulsive, layered prose, THE DEGENERATES shatters conventional narratives and pays tribute to those characters often lost in the margins.
by Raeden Richardson
Text Publishing:, January 2025
(via Writers House)
THE DEGENERATES is a spiritual novel for the twenty-first century following the interconnected lives of four characters: Somnath, a humble, Bombayite shoeshiner subject to a government-enforced sterilization in 1975; Titch, a working-class Australian teenager left grieving after his soulmate live-streams his suicide; and Ginny, a prodigious young woman propelled to Brooklyn to make a new life and escape her cruel family. At the heart of the novel, Maha Sonpate waits in an illegal underground garage, listening to the tales of these and other outcasts who wander the streets of Melbourne. As she collects the nightmarish histories of her followers, wrestling with her paradoxical role as both writer and reader, Maha journeys to The Red Plains, a surrealist landscape on the fringes of suburbia, and writes until the edge of language where reality itself begins to dissolve.
THE DEGENERATES contends with contemporary tragedies—the sorrow of displacement, the addictive allure of cryptocurrencies, the longing for a home beyond the banality of the suburbs—and finds love in its most timeless form. Bridging Australia, India and the United States, the novel blends the holy with the base, grappling with the realities of modern loneliness and every form of departure—from our homes, from our families and even from life itself.
“THE DEGENERATES so radiates with vitality that one feels as if its pages are somehow emitting the material of real life. This extraordinary novel is as much a story — one that is simultaneously entertaining and purposeful — as an argument for the value of storytelling itself.” —Vauhini Vara, author of The Immortal King Rao
“It’s rare to find a novel that moves as confidently yet unpredictably as THE DEGENERATES. Raeden Richardson writes like a composer scoring a symphony, with such grace, fluidity, and musical control you almost feel you can see the notes rising off the page. Each of his characters possesses a wholly unique interiority, and through their minds, he communicates a vision of a world in which dissolution and creation—the degenerative and the regenerative—are inseparable from each other.” —Kevin Brockmeier, author of Things That Fall from the Sky
Raeden Richardson is an Indian-Australian writer raised in Melbourne and has lived in Singapore and New York. He is a graduate of Yale-NUS College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has received support from the American Australian Association, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Ian Potter Cultural Trust and the John Anson Kittredge Fund. He has taught Creative Writing at The University of Iowa and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. His writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Masters Review, Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings, Strangely Enough and New Australian Fiction.