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Hammer (Hardcover)

Hammer By Joe Mungo Reed Cover Image
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An art auction house employee helps a Russian oligarch sell his prized collection, ensnaring himself in a dangerous romance and an even more treacherous political plot.

It’s 2013, and much of the world still reels from the global economic collapse. Yet in the auction rooms of London, artworks are selling for record-breaking prices. Seeking a place in this gilded world is Martin, a junior specialist at a prestigious auction house. Martin spends his days catering to the whims of obscenely wealthy clients and his nights drinking in grubby pubs with his demoralized roommate. However, a chance meeting with Marina, an old university friend, presents Martin with a chance to change everything.

Pursuing distraction from her failing marriage and from a career she doesn’t quite believe in, Marina draws Martin into her circle and that of her husband, Oleg, an art-collecting oligarch. Shaken by the death of his mother and chafing against his diminishing influence in his homeland, Oleg appears primed to change his own life—and perhaps to relinquish his priceless art collection long coveted by London’s auction houses. Martin is determined to secure the sale and transform his career. But his ambitions are threatened by factors he hasn’t reckoned with: a dangerous attraction between himself and Marina, and half-baked political plans through which Oleg aims to redeem himself and Russia but which instead imperil the safety of the oligarch and all those around him.

Hammer is a riveting, ambitious novel—at once a sharp art world exposé, a tense geopolitical thriller, and a brooding romance—that incisively explores the intersection of wealth, power, and desire.

About the Author

Joe Mungo Reed was born in London and raised in Gloucestershire, England. He has a degree in philosophy and politics from the University of Edinburgh, an MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Manchester. He is the author of the novel, We Begin Our Ascent, and his short stories have appeared in VQR, the London Evening Standard, and Corriere della Sera. He is currently living in Edinburgh, UK.

Praise For…

“Unfailingly entertaining…Hammer has the smoothness of a good cable drama.”—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

Hammer has a lot to say about the role that art plays in the world at large…The novel gains lamentable timeliness from a late plot twist involving Ukrainian independence and Vladimir Putin’s 2014 invasion of Crimea, but Reed sensitively handles those issues while steadily raveling his characters’ increasingly disparate lives into an intricate look at politics, morality and coming to terms with one’s past.”—Cory Oldweiler, The Washington Post

Hammer is a many-layered slow-burn of a novel…a tragedy of manners, should such a thing exist (perhaps Les Liaisons Dangereuses). It is also a timely document of a world in which corruption and sincerity, lofty intentions and craven pursuits, can be impossible even for the perpetrators to tell apart.”—Bethanne Patrick, The Los Angeles Times

Reed casts his appraising eye on the equally cutthroat worlds of modern art and Russian politics…[He] is consistently excellent in his takes on art, money, and the ruthlessness of the auction house business.”Publishers Weekly

“Reed’s riveting second novel is at once a romance, a geopolitical thriller, a meditation on art, and an investigation of the moral compromises that everyone makes in the gravitational presence of wealth. Reed does a masterful job of complicating his characters’ motivations...Richly textured, compulsively readable, and brilliant throughout.” Kirkus (starred review)

 “A timely tale in its outlying politics and a hardened critique of the ever-commodified world.” Booklist

"Reed’s great gift is to write about the contemporary art market, about the relationship between beauty and rapacious wealth, without cynicism or easy satire. By the time you finish Hammer, you’ll feel like it all makes a kind of sense. Not to mention that—as one of Reed’s characters observes, and as Hammer amply demonstrates—there are way more destructive things the super-rich could be doing with their money.” —Jonathan Dee, author of The Locals and The Privileges

“For the second time, Joe Mungo Reed has found a way to entice readers into the intricacies and beauty of a world at first niche, which in his careful hands quickly becomes familiar, then thrilling. Hammer displays an artist’s uncanny ability to pay attention to the fine moments and meticulously weave them into a stunning work of fiction. Joe Mungo Reed has solidified himself as a novelist of great poise and power.” —Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of the New York Times bestseller Friday Black

“Art is among the most manipulated markets in the world, and no novel since Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall captures this truth better, or in more exquisite prose, than Hammer. Joe Mungo Reed makes good on the promise of We Begin Our Ascent, dispelling the myth of the sophomore slump and proving that a writer’s second book can be his best. I was captivated from the gorgeous opening to the thrilling end.” —David James Poissant, author of Lake Life and The Heaven of Animals
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982121624
ISBN-10: 1982121629
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 22nd, 2022
Pages: 352
Language: English