Gival Press Novel Award 2020
Winner of the 14th Gival Press Novel Award-2020
A dystopian novel about a man's imprisonment, with echoes of Kafka and Orwell.
When a prisoner in an unnamed labor camp finds his journal of memories taken from his cell, he sets out to console himself and perhaps find in his past a way to reclaim his freedom by again writing down what he can remember. As the prisoner writes and passes through the vivid world of a distant life, he is eventually confronted by a strange memory that, if true, questions the reliability of his memories and whether what he remembers was really his own life or, somehow, someone else’s.
"The loquacious narrator at the center of Redshift, Blueshift is a prisoner to memory and obsession. He is a prisoner both literally and figuratively, confined behind broken memories and behind actual cold walls, and as his history unfolds in epistolary form, the reader is asked to struggle alongside him with memories untrustworthy and scattered. The novel is wonderfully paced and Jordan Silversmith expertly reveals how this narrator has come to be surrounded by thick cold concrete and gaolers and befriended only by the birds flitting in the sky; his only relationships invented by his limited access to a past that is exposed and raw and filled with his own jealous neediness and sins. Redshift, Blueshift is a philosophical and metaphysical delight, a mystery that both the narrator and the reader must unpack, tension and momentum rising by degrees, the lyrical language from Silversmith paving the way over cobbled streets and iron overpasses and even into the torture chamber where so much is revealed. This book is a gem, and it will last, and if all is right in the world, Silversmith will soon be a familiar name to readers everywhere."
—Seth Brady Tucker, judge and author of We Deserve the Gods We Ask For
“Jordan Silversmith creates a new voice of his own by resurrecting a Beckett-like monologue in which all imaginable experience is compressed into writing, into narrating itself. Piercingly witty reflections on absurdities of the human condition, yet with uncanny coherence, rich in apt allusions to literature and culture, connect with the commonest and most abject in everyday life. This text rivets attention and stirs uncomfortable emotion by its evocations of extreme experiences—such as being a prisoner in solitary confinement humiliated by sadistic guards or being a Robinson Crusoe alone without even a surrounding world. All is filtered through and fuses with the extreme experience of being conscious in a body. The ‘entries’ offer an anatomy, an archeology, an analytic of existing as a self. Yet the monologue is sustained by and suspended on simply the compulsion to write—or to read. This is a read that seizes and does not let one go.”
—William Franke, Professor of Comparative Literature, Vanderbilt University
"If you love reading fiction, it is a special pleasure to come across a new and memorable voice. Jordan Silversmith’s writing brings back memories of Kafka, and Orwell, the Golding of Pincher Martin and the infernal world of Ivan Denisovitch, but Redshift, Blueshift is no homage but the real thing, a novel to rejoice in and be changed by.”
—Richard Cohen, author of the forthcoming The History Makers
An interview with Jen St. Jude of Chicago Review of Books about Redshift, Blueshift:
"Capturing the befuddlement of sustained imprisonment, the dystopian novel Redshift, Blueshift focuses on a man who's alone in a cell, and who becomes a prism through which to explore multiple interpretations of reality."
—Susan Waggoner, Foreword Reviews, 4 Starred Review
"A piercingly eerie, if sometimes-blurry, account of a prison sentence."
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Jordan Silversmith has received degrees from Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia. His poem "Praxis" was chosen by Philip Metres for the 2020 Slippery Elm Prize in Poetry. He works as an attorney in New York City.