A wonderful, wickedly funny new novel

It’s not easy to write a really funny book about such anxiety-producing topics as love, death, failure and our currently terrifying economy, but that’s exactly what Sam Lipsyte has accomplished with his terrific new novel, The Ask (available 3/2).

The Ask tells the story of Milo Burke, a failed painter who lost his day job in the development department at a third-tier university. Wallowing in self-pity and wondering how to hold on to his bored wife’s affection, Milo spends his time mumbling to himself about the sterility of culture and the uselessness of technology. But when the university asks him to do one last job—secure the donation of his former roommate, the impossibly rich Purdy Stuart—Milo departs on a hilariously paranoid journey through contemporary society. This novel isn’t afraid to show the darker side of life, but while The Ask can be a bone-chilling read, it somehow still makes you laugh out loud.

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