Stephan Lee
January 18, 2012 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Flame Alphabet

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ben Marcus
publisher
Knopf
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B+

To appreciate this book, you need to accept its sky-high concept: The speech of children suddenly becomes lethal to their parents. The epidemic, which afflicts only Jews at first, soon spreads to the rest of the world. Barely clinging to life, Sam and his wife Claire escape their daughter Esther and find themselves at a government facility, where they undergo brutal tests. At times The Flame Alphabet is aggressively unpleasant, but for those who can stomach it, Marcus’ novel crackles with vicious intelligence and makes incisive statements about language and family. B+

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