"The novel is a magical-realist office drama infused with millennial anomie, and McGhee’s canny, often bittersweetly hilarious prose reads as if George Saunders infiltrated the Severance writers’ room."
—Rafael Frumkin, Washington Post
"This laugh-out-loud debut is a wildly imaginative, tender and piercing critique of the squeeze of capitalism."
—Xochitl Gonzalez, Good Morning America
"A scathing critique of capitalism that holds onto the humanity of its characters."
—Laura Zornosa, TIME
Jonathan Abernathy is a self-proclaimed loser. . . he’s behind on his debts, has no prospects, no friends, and no ambitions. But when a government loan forgiveness program offers him a literal dream job, he thinks he’s found his big break. If he can appear to be competent at his new job, entering the minds of middle class workers while they sleep and removing the unsavory detritus of their waking lives from their unconscious, he might have a chance at a new life. As Abernathy finds his footing in this role, reality and morality begin to warp around him. Soon, the lines between life and work, love and hate, right and wrong, even sleep and consciousness, begin to blur.
Molly McGhee touches on themes most people know all too well—the relentlessly crushing weight of debt, the recognition that work won’t love you back and the awkwardness of finding love when you are without hope. A workplace novel, at once tender, startling, and deeply funny, Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is a stunning, critical work of surrealist fiction, a piercing critique of late-stage capitalism, and a reckoning with its true cost.
About the Author
Molly McGhee is from a cluster of unincorporated towns outside of Nashville, Tennessee. She completed her MFA in fiction at Columbia University, where, in addition to receiving a Chair’s Fellowship, she taught in the undergraduate creative writing department. She has worked in the editorial departments of McSweeney’s, The Believer, NOON, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Tor. Currently living in Brooklyn, her work has appeared in The Paris Review.
"[Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is] perfect for whatever stage of capitalism we're in, and might make your own job feel a little less soul-sucking too."
—Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping
"McGhee’s clipped, knowing, and often very funny prose . . . somehow manages to infuse the book with both levity and dread."
—Emily Temple, Literary Hub
"[A] hotly anticipated and surprisingly touching debut novel . . . [Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is] a delightfully searing critique of late-stage capitalism."
—Rachael Conrad, Polygon
"McGhee grapples skillfully with the complicated ethical questions at the core of late-stage capitalism. How much of yourself must you sacrifice in order to make a life? Who do we risk becoming in the pursuit of safety and comfort?"
—Isle McElroy, Vulture
"[A] darkly comic fantastical debut . . . Fans of Ling Ma’s Severance will soak this up."
"[A] sparkling first novel . . . This is a debut that announces a remarkably imaginative and exciting new talent. The unreality of the setting is expertly used to suggest the inhumanity of many accepted norms, and the narrative unfurls into a superlative state-of-the-nation novel like no other. Full of astoundingly resonant and eminently quotable points about labor, capital, and depression, this wondrous literary creation brilliantly captures the excessive demands of contemporary work."
—Alexander Moran, Booklist (starred review)
"[Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind] is a brutal examination of the psychological pressures and ethical complexity required to survive under late capitalism, [but] McGhee’s wry humor, tenderness, and razor-sharp writing keep it from veering into nihilism and infuse it with a real, if melancholy, kind of hope. Upton Sinclair meets modern workplace satire—with a lot of heart."
"This is not an escapist novel. This is a look-our-problems-in-the-face novel. McGhee’s work here is not to be ignored, with inventive prose that perfectly captures the feeling of trying to keep trying even when capitalism makes you feel worthless. I am in awe, and will be first in line for everything she writes after this."
—Christina Orlando, Tor.com
"[Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is] the spiritual sibling of Severance, but creepier."
"Molly McGhee's luminary imagination makes this debut a wonder. Precision, humor, heart, this is a stunner."
—Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, bestselling author of Friday Black and Chain Gang All Stars
"An exuberant, poignant, freewheeling debut full of complication and surprise. It is also often very funny."
—Jeff VanderMeer, author of the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy
"A deeply humane novel that perfectly marries the strangeness and terror of everything we can’t explain about ourselves, to ourselves, and the everyday horrors of contemporary workplace culture. Molly McGhee knows the stuff our dreams are made of — she's a marvelous chronicler of the fantastic, the perverse, and the sublime."
—Kelly Link, author of White Cat, Black Dog
"The fiction of Molly McGhee is funny, freaky, intellectually bold and always from the heart. McGhee has seen enough of the world to know that you’ve got to start some trouble in it. She also knows that seeing the humor in our personal foibles and social absurdities (cruel as the latter often are), will always be a powerful way to commiserate with your fellow humans. Here is a writer who is keenly aware of what we’ve all got coming, but in the meantime is never afraid to laugh and live and fight on the page.”
—Sam Lipsyte, Guggenheim Fellow and The New York Times Bestselling author of The Ask
“Molly McGhee is a fearlessly inventive and exquisitely poised writer, one who knows how to aim right at the jugular of today's optimization-obsessed technocratic capitalism. Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is trippy, incisive, and, most importantly, riotously funny.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
“Welcome to the somnambulatory prose of Molly McGhee, where vivid nightmares and lucid tender dreams live side by side. Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is a revelation told with the honesty and delicacy of a drowsy oracle. There's nothing like it, awake or asleep or anywhere in between.”
—Hilary Leichter, author of Temporary
“In the light of this insightfully nightmarish parable of the pervasive ravages of debt, Abernathy’s optimism, and the serene pace of McGhee’s prose, are stone cold chilling.”
—Halle Butler, Granta Best Young American Novelist and author of The New Me
“To her debut, McGhee brings a flawless ear for language and a tender hand for character. The world is burning, it's hard to tell dreams from nightmares, but McGhee's novel never crumbles beneath the bleakness of its circumstances. Lively, vacillating between humor and heartbreak at breakneck speeds, Jonathan Abernathy You Are Kind is the rare novel that truly feels like it could've only been written by a single brilliant mind.”
—Jean Kyoung Frazier, author of Pizza Girl
“Molly McGhee reminds me of absolutely no one. Here’s an original mind brimming over with invention and comic ferocity and a new world sensibility that serves to remind us what good hands the future of literature is in. I am hugely excited for everyone to read this mad, hilarious writer.”
—Ben Marcus, Guggenheim Fellow and author of The Flame Alphabet