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The Amateurs (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The Amateurs explores the depths of the human capacity for curiosity, hope, loneliness and love, and does so through characters so beautifully drawn that you will embrace and chastise them as you would friends. Marie is one of the few who have resisted the extraordinary pull of PORT, a technological innovation purported to take you to any place or time you desire. She and her dog Gus live on the outskirts of a community of people who stayed, but they are struggling to survive and resist the increasing seduction of PORT. On the other side of this now-empty country resides Albrecht Doors, the wealthy, charismatic, mad inventor of PORT. He is surrounded by his followers, but those closest to him are beginning to question his claims and wonder what there is to defect to. Harmer brilliantly weaves into this tale of technological seduction the dangers of human desire and hubris, and leaves you wondering what limits you would test and just how far.

— Linda


"Harmer takes cues from Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy in this sharp debut, a cautionary tale of tech gone astray." —Toronto Life

In a time and place only slightly removed from now, PINA, the world’s largest tech company, has introduced society to a new product called “Port.” This irresistible space-time travel device is mysteriously powered by nostalgia and longing: Step inside a Port and find yourself transported any place your heart desires, real or imagined. Earth’s population plummets when many who pass through its portal don’t come back—either unwilling or unable to return.
            In The Amateurs, Liz Harmer has crafted a subtle, many-faceted debut novel about rapture and romance—and the strange, dark, powerful alchemy that happens when technology meets desire.

About the Author

LIZ HARMER is working on a second novel, and a story collection, which was a finalist for the 2014 Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award. Her stories and essays have been published in The Malahat Review, PRISM, Grain, The New Quarterly, Little Brother and other journals. She won a National Magazine Award in Personal Journalism and was nominated for another NMA, both in 2014. She was longlisted for the CBC Short Story Prize and a finalist for a Glimmer Train Prize, and was on the editorial board at echolocation between 2013 and 2015. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, where her mentor was Charles Foran. She has also studied with David Bezmozgis, Richard Greene, Robert McGill and Richard Bausch. Raised in Hamilton, Ontario, she now lives with her husband and their three young daughters in southern California.

Praise For…


“Like all good science fiction, The Amateurs ably carries the weight of analogy: the grand themes of technology and what we’ve done to our planet and ourselves.” —Toronto Star

“Harmer creates a solid balance of a lived-in setting and a high concept. . . . Harmer’s description of the effects of the changed world, and how these characters perceive it, resonates deeply. . . . A discovery at the end of the first part leads thematically into the second’s shift in focus, allowing for two distinct riffs on the idea of coping with the end of everything. It’s a metaphorically rich concept, and Harmer keeps a solid balance between the ambiguity and the world-building. . . . This novel weds a high concept to an abundance of heart; like the mysterious passages in it, it’s hard to shake.” —

“Harmer takes cues from Margaret Atwood and Cormac McCarthy in this sharp debut, a cautionary tale of tech gone astray.” —Toronto Life
“In her near perfect debut novel, Liz Harmer taps into current anxieties about technology to explore themes of transcendence, post-urbanity, and survival. . . . Harmer’s prose and pacing are elegant and precise, her characters distinct and engaging. . . . The novel’s dystopian setting is fully realized . . . nearly every conceivable question about the post-port world is addressed with grace and subtlety. . . . [The Amaterus] captivates right up to its final page.” —Quill & Quire
“[A] stunningly powerful work of post-apocalyptic fiction that examines our sense of reality and deals with the ultimate questions of where we came from and where we’re headed.” —The Hamilton Spectator
“Deeply original, The Amateurs is tense and fast-paced, exploring what happens when technology and desire meet in a world that doesn’t seem so different from ours.” —This Magazine

The Amateurs is sly and smart, unsettled and unsettling, a bold probe into our age’s grand seduction. An astonishing debut by a dazzling new voice.” —Charles Foran

Product Details
ISBN: 9780345811257
ISBN-10: 0345811259
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Pages: 336