The Dreamers: A Novel (Paperback)
January 2019 Indie Next List
“A strange virus invades a small university community, sending its victims into deep, seemingly endless sleep and infecting them with extremely powerful dreams. This backdrop provides a perfect scenario for examining the delicate, often unrecognized line between reality and perception. As the crisis deepens, the characters are caught up in a phantasmagorical world that challenges normal conceptions of existence. A thoughtful, provocative novel of strength and beauty.”
— Bill Cusmano, Square Books, Oxford, MS
NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE • An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from the bestselling author of The Age of Miracles.
“Stunning.”—Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven • “A startling, beautiful portrait of a community in peril.”—Entertainment Weekly
One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.
Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life—if only we are awakened to them.
Praise for The Dreamers
“Walker’s roving fictive eye by turns probes characters’ innermost feelings and zooms out to coolly parse topics like reality versus delusion. . . . [It has] the perfect ambiguous frame for a tense and layered plot.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“[Walker’s] gripping, provocative novel should come with a warning: may cause insomnia.”—People (Book of the Week)
“Powerful and moving . . . written with symphonic sweep.”—The New York Times Book Review
“2019’s first must-read novel . . . Alternately terrifying and moving . . . The Dreamers is overflowing with humanity.”—Jezebel
“This is an exquisite work of intimacy. Walker’s sentences are smooth, emotionally arresting—of a true, ethereal beauty. . . . This book achieves [a] dazzling, aching humanity.”—Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Karen Thompson Walker is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Age of Miracles, which has been translated into twenty-seven languages and named one of the best books of the year by People, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Financial Times, among others. Born and raised in San Diego, Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. She lives with her husband, the novelist Casey Walker, and their two daughters in Portland. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Oregon.
“The Dreamers is harrowing, riveting, profoundly moving, and beautifully written. In a word, this book is stunning.”—Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
“Walker offers a novel bursting with ideas, probing the scary and tantalizing possibilities at the edges of our existence.”—USA Today
“In The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker’s second novel, dreams are . . . both more dangerous and more powerful than the Greeks could have ever imagined. . . . Walker uses evocative language to describe the almost bewitching nature of contagion.”—The Washington Post
“Walker writes beautifully about the things that define how a society either endures or collapses in crisis, a theme that may never have been more timely than it is now.”—Minneapolis StarTribune
“[An] imaginative, disturbing, and ultimately spellbinding narrative, which asks provocative questions about our concepts of time and connection, and the bounds of possibility for life on earth.”—Vogue
“You’ll be mesmerized by this well-constructed, vividly drawn exploration of the concept of dreams versus reality.”—Marie Claire
“With mellifluous prose, Walker traces victims’ experiences (awake and asleep), along with how their family members, friends, and doctors respond to the crisis.”—Real Simple
“The Dreamers is a beautifully written novel that is powerful, thoughtful, and entirely original.”—PopSugar
“Richly imaginative and quietly devastating . . . Walker jolts the narrative with surprising twists, ensuring it keeps its energy until the end. This is a skillful, complex, and thoroughly satisfying novel about a community in peril.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Frighteningly powerful, beautiful, and uncanny, The Dreamers is a love story and also a horror story—a symphonic achievement, alternating intimate moments with a panoramic capture of a crisis in progress.”—Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove