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Cherry
Cover of Cherry
Cherry
A novel
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A PEN/HEMINGWAY AWARD FINALIST
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
THE NEW YORKER ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLYVULTURE VOGUE LIT HUB
Jesus' Son
meets Reservoir Dogs in a breakneck-paced debut novel about love, war, bank robberies, and heroin.


"Nico Walker's Cherry might be the first great novel of the opioid epidemic." —Vulture

"A miracle of literary serendipity. . . . [Walker's] language, relentlessly profane but never angry, simmers at the level of morose disappointment, something like Holden Caulfield Goes to War." —The Washington Post

It's 2003, and as a college freshman in Cleveland, our narrator is adrift until he meets Emily. The two of them experience an instant, life-changing connection. But when he almost loses her, he chooses to make an indelible statement: he joins the Army.
The outcome will not be good for either of them.
As a medic in Iraq, he is unprepared for the realties that await him. He and his fellow soldiers huff computer duster, abuse painkillers, and watch porn. Many of them die. When he comes home, his PTSD is profound. As the opioid crisis sweeps through the Midwest, it drags both him and Emily along with it. As their addictions worsen, and with their money drying up, he stumbles onto what seems like the only possible solution—robbing banks.
Written by a singularly talented, wildly imaginative debut novelist, Cherry is a bracingly funny and unexpectedly tender work of fiction straight from the dark heart of America.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
A PEN/HEMINGWAY AWARD FINALIST
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
THE NEW YORKER ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLYVULTURE VOGUE LIT HUB
Jesus' Son
meets Reservoir Dogs in a breakneck-paced debut novel about love, war, bank robberies, and heroin.


"Nico Walker's Cherry might be the first great novel of the opioid epidemic." —Vulture

"A miracle of literary serendipity. . . . [Walker's] language, relentlessly profane but never angry, simmers at the level of morose disappointment, something like Holden Caulfield Goes to War." —The Washington Post

It's 2003, and as a college freshman in Cleveland, our narrator is adrift until he meets Emily. The two of them experience an instant, life-changing connection. But when he almost loses her, he chooses to make an indelible statement: he joins the Army.
The outcome will not be good for either of them.
As a medic in Iraq, he is unprepared for the realties that await him. He and his fellow soldiers huff computer duster, abuse painkillers, and watch porn. Many of them die. When he comes home, his PTSD is profound. As the opioid crisis sweeps through the Midwest, it drags both him and Emily along with it. As their addictions worsen, and with their money drying up, he stumbles onto what seems like the only possible solution—robbing banks.
Written by a singularly talented, wildly imaginative debut novelist, Cherry is a bracingly funny and unexpectedly tender work of fiction straight from the dark heart of America.
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About the Author-
  • Nico Walker is originally from Cleveland. Cherry is his debut novel.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2018
    In this unsettling debut, a young man raised in the middle-class comforts of America encounters war, love, and drug addiction.After the narrator awakens on the first page, he is "looking for a shirt with no blood on it" and then for his rigs--the apparatus of heroin addiction--to get him and his partner, Emily, in shape for the day. She has to be at school by 10 a.m. to teach college students remedial writing. The two met at 18 and now they are 25, living in a Cleveland suburb. Walker opens and closes the story in the couples' present at age 25, while the bulk looks back at how the unnamed narrator found Emily and lost her and went off to war in Iraq in 2005. The writing is raw, coarse, and sometimes forced: "Your new friends would eat the eyes out of your head for a spoon." Yet it often has a brute power, tapping the unadorned, pointedly repetitive language of addiction or battle. The IED "took off both Jimenez's legs and severed one of his arms almost completely. But he was still awake and he knew what was happening. He was screaming." So many patrols deal with bombs or breaking into suspect houses: "Just IEDs. Just kicking doors. More IEDs. More doors." Soldiers look for distraction. Two of them make snuff films with mice. Some do drugs because the Army stops checking urine. On his release from the Army, the narrator reconnects with Emily and copes with PTSD. "In these years I didn't sleep and when I slept I dreamt of violence." Heroin takes over, with its own awful monotony. They are "spending over a thousand dollars on dope, every week." She keeps teaching. He robs banks.A bleak tale told bluntly with an abundance of profanity but also of insight into two kinds of living hell.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 25, 2018
    A man who likens himself to a “stray dog with the mange” descends into addiction in this frustrating debut. Walker’s unnamed narrator begins the novel as “a soft kid” from a stable home, a vegetarian shoe store employee dating a college classmate named Emily who likes Modest Mouse and Edward Albee. But when Emily transfers, he fails out of school and enlists in the Army as a medic, reasoning “I don’t have any other ideas.” He wastes time in Iraq “waiting for the war to happen” and grows further apart from Emily. Upon returning home to Cleveland, the narrator starts “getting into the OxyContin pretty hard.” He traipses through a parade of new women before Emily reenters the picture, having started using drugs herself. “There was nothing better than to be young and on heroin,” the narrator writes. Some readers may find the innumerable descriptions of the Sisyphean life of an addict suitably transgressive. For everyone else, the insistence on Emily’s culpability for the narrator’s degeneration, as well as the depiction of other women as useful only for sex, make the novel feel like it’s willing to describe the catastrophe of its narrator’s life, but not truly examine it.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2018

    Set in the early 2000s, this work features a nameless narrator telling the story of an intelligent, troubled young man from a middle-class Cleveland suburb who might well resemble the author. It begins as a love story, when he meets Emily, who quickly becomes his high school sweetheart. Directionless and in pain after she splits with him to attend college, he opts to join the army, eventually landing in Iraq as a combat medic. Suffering from PTSD on his return, he again finds Emily, and they take up a tenuous existence together. The PTSD leads to a heavy involvement with drugs, as he moves from Oxycodone to heroin and brings Emily along in his addiction. The constant need for money to support their habits sends him on a downward spiral that culminates in a series of bank robberies. Written by a first-time author currently incarcerated, this is both a sad love story and a raw tale of a young man's downfall owing to war and its aftermath. While the main character is no one's role model, he has enough intelligence and moral sense to seem not totally beyond redemption. VERDICT A raging, agonized scream of a novel and a tremendously powerful debut.--Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The Washington Post "Cherry is a miracle of literary serendipity, a triumph. . . . [Walker's] language, relentlessly profane but never angry, simmers at the level of morose disappointment, something like Holden Caulfield Goes to War. . . . His prose echoes Ernest Hemingway's cadences to powerful effect. . . . Cherry is written without an ounce of self-pity by an author allergic to the meretricious poetry of despair. In these propulsive pages, Walker draws us right into the mind of an ordinary young man beset by his own and his country's demons. In the end, his only weapon against disintegration is his own devastating candor."
  • Vulture "The rare work of literary fiction by a young American that carries with it nothing of the scent of an MFA program. . . . The voice Walker has fashioned has a lot in common with the one Denis Johnson conjured for his masterpiece Jesus' Son. . . . A novel of searing beauty."
  • The New York Times "A singular portrait of the opioid epidemic. . . . [Walker] writes dialogue so musical and realistic you'll hear it in the air around you."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Nico Walker
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