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a novel by
Nora Lange

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This book will be released on September 17, 2024.

"Past and present seep and bleed in this assured, richly ruminative, darkly funny debut. With exacting lyricism, Nora Lange chronicles the tumult and chaotic love between two unforgettable sisters. Us Fools is a marvel of brutal wit and wild charm—a brilliant, sweeping chronicle of a singular American family."
—Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light

A tragicomic, intimate American story of two precocious sisters coming of age during the Midwestern farm crisis of the 1980s.

Joanne and Bernadette Fareown are raised on their family farm in rural Illinois, keenly affected by their parents’ volatile relationship and mounting financial debt, haunted by the cursed history of the women in their family. Largely left to their own devices, the sisters educate themselves on Greek mythology, feminism, and Virginia Woolf, realizing they must find unique ways to cope in these antagonistic conditions, questioning the American Dream as the rest of the country abandons their community in crisis.

As Jo and Bernie’s imaginative solutions for escape come up short against their parents’ realities, the family leaves their farm for Chicago, where Joanne—free-spirited, reckless, and unable to tame her inner violence—rebels in increasingly desperate ways. After her worst breakdown yet, Jo goes into exile in Deadhorse, Alaska, and it is up to Bernadette to use all she’s learned from her sister to revive a sense of hope against the backdrop of a failing world.

With her debut novel, Nora Lange has crafted a rambunctious, ambitious, and heart-rending portrait of two idiosyncratic sisters, determined to persevere despite the worst that capitalism and their circumstances has to throw at them.


"Nora Lange's remarkably tender and moving Us Fools is a beautiful portrait of the parallel, intersecting, and occasionally derailing tracks of two sisters coming of age in an America as broken as ever. The backdrop is the Eighties Midwest farm crisis though Lange expertly weaves in classic literature, philosophy, and socioeconomics with a graceful touch, never heavy-handed in how she renders this sibling love story also a cautionary tale of all the innate impossibilities of capitalism in a golden age of consumerism. There is a resounding authenticity to Lange's novel that feels almost startling for a book wired mostly quietly. I think anyone who gets lost in these pages will find themselves haunted for life by Lange's truly singular and yet deeply, painfully, intimately American vision."
—Porochista Khakpour, author of Tehrangeles

"Past and present seep and bleed in this assured, richly ruminative, darkly funny debut. With exacting lyricism, Nora Lange chronicles the tumult and chaotic love between two unforgettable sisters. Us Fools is a marvel of brutal wit and wild charm—a brilliant, sweeping chronicle of a singular American family."
—Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light

"This is a novel of heartbreak and beauty, presided over by one of the most idiosyncratic and surprising comedic voices I’ve encountered in recent times. Lange’s narrator, the younger of two sisters, is the true joy of Us Fools, speaking directly to the reader in a deceptively casual voice that is witty and allusive and at the same manages to plumb the sadness hidden deep within our quotidian lives. In all, a smashing debut."
—T.C. Boyle, author of Blue Skies

"With wild dreams and tender considerations, Nora Lange’s Us Fools brings us that bond most tangled, mysterious, eternal and dazzlingly reflective: sisters. As farms and families spin, what center holds when the world lets go?"
—Samantha Hunt, author of The Dark Dark

"There is something of the end of America in Nora Lange's portrait of a farming family on a wild and anfractuous path to the brink of collapse. At turns hallucinatory and ruminative, fans of Joy Williams will find a familiar in Lange’s sharp-witted prose."
—Amelia Gray, author of Isadora

"Us Fools by Nora Lange is an epic-sized, gloriously-anarchic, blow-out adventure through recent American history. From the farm crisis of the 80’s and through the intellectual changes crossing into the new millennium, the novel follows the joys and heartbreaks of one farm family as it’s rocked through the wild, political, hilarious, weird, disturbing and occasionally comforting changes in American life. How are we supposed to survive as Americans anyway? Can we? I felt hints of Marilynne Robinson and David Foster Wallace here in this amazing work, and with its smart, rhapsodic language, it feels like Roberto Bolaño’s baton has been passed to Nora Lange."
—Robin McLean, author of Pity the Beast

Us Fools is one of those special books that reorders the world and makes everything new again — language, family, history, fear, love. Nora Lange writes with the precision of Joy Williams, and the heart of George Saunders, in a voice that is all her own. You won’t forget this novel.”
—Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in Circles

"Us Fools is a boisterous, irreverent, and moving novel about two sisters growing up in an America that doesn't much care for them or their Midwestern farming family. With comic tenderness and with an unforgettable, ferocious voice, Nora Lange paints a remarkable portrait of connection and alienation, of love and heartbreak, and all points in between. "
—Edan Lepucki, author of Time's Mouth

"Us Fools reimagines the intergenerational family saga as a gobsmacked midwestern modern gothic. This novel is an explosion of ideas and a feast of language—a crazy quilt of bafflement, history, love, and danger—made unforgettable by the central sisters Fareown, whose binary star guides us through the wild heartlands of Nora Lange’s matchless mind."
—Justin Taylor, author of Reboot

"Midwest farm life in the 1980s gets an inimitable revision through the eyes of the brilliant and unsettling Fareown sisters — filled with insight, sex, and unpredictable action, Lange’s provocative debut dazzles and will be like nothing you’ve read this year."
—J. Ryan Stradal, author of Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club

"Lange’s voice shines in this wonderful debut."
—Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or and The Idiot


Nora Lange, author of Us Fools (Two Dollar Radio, 2024)

Nora Lange's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in BOMBHazlittJoylandAmerican Short Fiction, Denver QuarterlyHTMLGiantLITThe Fairy Tale Review, and elsewhere. Her project Dailyness was longlisted for the 2014 Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers. She received her MFA from Brown University's Literary Arts Program where she was a Kaplan Fellow, and will be a 2024 fellow at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. An earlier iteration of Us Fools was shortlisted for The Novel Prize in 2020, a prize to recognize and publish novels that explore and expand the possibilities of the form. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Visit the author page for Nora Lange.

Sneak Peek

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Cover design: Eric Obenauf.
Cover photo: Gary Leonard.
Author photograph: Courtesy of the author.

TERRITORY: U.S. & Canada
FORMAT: Paperback Original (1st printing, gatefold)
LIST PRICE: $18.95
PAGES: 320
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387516
DIGITAL ISBN: 9781953387523
PUB DATE: September 17, 2024
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"