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A Novel

List Price: $26.00

January 14, 2020 | Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.4, 208 pages | ISBN 9781640093065
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From the author of The Seed Collectors comes a darkly comic take on power, privilege, and the pressure put on young women to fit in–and be thin–at their all-girls boarding school

It’s already the second week of term when Natasha, the daughter of a Russian oligarch, arrives at a vast English country house for her first day of boarding school. She soon discovers that the headmaster gives special treatment to the skinniest girls, and Tash finds herself thrown into the school’s unfamiliar, moneyed world of fierce pecking orders, eating disorders, and Instagram angst.

The halls echo with the story of Princess Augusta, the White Lady whose portraits–featuring a hypnotizing black diamond–hang everywhere and whose ghost is said to haunt the dorms. It’s said that she fell in love with a commoner and drowned herself in the lake. But the girls don’t really know anything about the woman she was, much less anything about one another. When Tash’s friend Bianca mysteriously vanishes, the routines of the school seem darker and more alien than ever before.

Tash must try to stay alive–and sane–while she uncovers what’s really going on. Hilariously dark, Oligarchy is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie for the digital age, exploring youth, power, and privilege. Scarlett Thomas captures the lives of privileged teenage girls, in all their triviality and magnitude, seeking acceptance and control in a manipulative world.

About Scarlett Thomas

SCARLETT THOMAS was born in London in 1972. Her other novels include The Seed Collectors, PopCo, and The End of Mr. Y, which was long-listed for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction in 2007, and she teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.


Praise for Oligarchy

One of the Evening Standard's Best Books of the Year
Entertainment Weekly, 1 of the 50 Must-Read Books of the Month

"Thomas does a fantastic job of capturing the mental and verbal style of a contemporary teen without being precious or exasperating . . . This is a weird, twisty book, and anyone familiar with Thomas' oeuvre will expect the kind of dark humor that is only possible from a writer of profound compassion. Strong stuff. Another strange delight from one of the United Kingdom's most interesting authors." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Satisfying, keenly observed . . . Thomas's depiction of the image-driven hive mind that dictates adolescent girls' relationships is spot-on . . . She's captured with an empathetic eye all the brutal, visceral, and surprisingly funny aspects of teenage girlhood. This is a sharp, astute novel." --Publishers Weekly

"Thomas has penned a sharp-eyed novel about the pressure society, adults, and peers put on girls to look and behave a certain way . . . Thomas deftly explores exactly what those cost are, and the toll they take on young women." --Booklist

"A very dark look into what it's like being a teenage girl in a world of Instagram . . . There's a mystery that runs throughout the story, and it comes to a satisfying (if depressing) conclusion." --Emily Burack, Alma, One of Our Favorite Books of the Season

"Scarlett Thomas hits upon the bizarreness of adolescence and the inanity that comes with it." --Sophie Matthews,

"A fast, fizzy read . . . Entertaining, irreverent and wrong-hilarious . . . Hugely enjoyable. It's about as menacing as a cool girl's black glitter nail polish--and just as much fun." --Bidisha, The Observer

"A darkly comic tale about the tribulations of the daughter of a Russian oligarch sent to an English boarding school" --Martin Chilton, Independent

"[A] riotously enjoyable novel . . . There are few more vivaciously original novelists around today, and surely none of them is having as much fun while making serious points." --Alex Peake-Tomkinson, The Spectator

"Thomas's quirky, darkly funny novel lifts the lid on the ways of teenage girls in the intense surroundings of a boarding school." --Eithne Farry, The Daily Mail

"Oligarchy is a delicious slap in the face--stunningly intelligent, alarmingly modern, hilariously funny, deeply pertinent, true, fantastical and several hankies' worth of poignant." --Louisa Young, author of My Dear I Wanted to Tell You

"An intricate black jewel of a novel. Weeks later I'm still thinking about it." --Kirsty Logan, author of Things We Say in the Dark

"The savagery of a private girls' school in England is not to be underestimated and never to be forgotten upon reading Oligarchy, Scarlett Thomas's scathing and brilliantly written novel of wealth and vanity run terribly amok." --Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen

Praise for The Seed Collectors

Named a best summer read by BuzzFeed and Good Housekeeping

"Thomas has a gift for interior monologues that flow steadily and easily, carrying you through a character's mental landscape, full of vivid imagery and digressions that flirt with spinning out of control but never quite go too far." --The New York Times Book Review

"The Seed Collectors is entrancing: it's a sharply observed contemporary novel of real people and real plants and real desire and real hurt, and it's somehow also one of the sharpest fantasies I've encountered. A sour-and-sweet delight." --Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods

"A smart and witty family drama, taking in secrets, sex, suicide, celebrity and the meaning of life." --Glamour

"Always original . . . a mindbending novel of family drama." --Good Housekeeping

"A weird, wonderful, and often wickedly funny family mini-saga... Bold, charming and inventive, The Seed Collectors will not only please Thomas's American fans, it may win her new ones as well." --The Boston Globe

"A searing family saga with dollops of magical realism, The Seed Collectors is an exquisitely nimble novel about self-knowledge, love and self-love, and the many ways we shape our lives." --Claire Fallon, Huffington Post

"The Seed Collectors, is laugh-out-loud funny for pages at a time. As British reviewers noted, it fits securely into the great tradition of the modern British comic novel . . . Thomas is more interested in rubbing words and ideas together and seeing what sparks they throw off than in telling stories that reinforce what we already think and end happily for likeable characters." --The Millions

"Simultaneously sharply-drawn and dreamlike, often hilarious, The Seed Collectors is a baroque family saga of human fallibility, love, eccentricity, sex, spirituality, and of a lost, legendary, coincidentally lethal route to absolute transcendence. Scarlett Thomas is a splendid novelist." --William Gibson, author of Neuromancer

"Scarlett Thomas is one of my favorite writers ever and The Seed Collectors might be her best yet. She fuses the comically everyday with a far-out botanical adventure in ways which are brutally funny and profound all at once. Barbed, casually genius, philosophical and intensely readable. A joy." --Matt Haig, author of The Radleys

"Thomas succeeds in creating a funny yet poignant tale that is as much about yearning for connection as it is about seeking enlightenment. Kudos to her for penning a splendid novel that blends botany, philosophy, and mystery." --Library Journal, Starred Review

"[A] hyperbolic, raunchy, hilarious immersion in the connected lives of some intensely imperfect people... Thomas is a literary star in the United Kingdom. She should be in the United States, too." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Acclaimed British writer Thomas uses a large cast of dysfunctional characters to explore concepts of connectedness and responsibility. With equal parts family saga, intriguing mystery, and existential foray, this magical tale of love and illumination will keep readers on their toes." --Booklist

"Ebullient prose, engaging characters, lively imagination, illuminating details -- Thomas is an original, and her novel is consistently entertaining." --Publishers Weekly

"We'd recommend keeping your eyes on this author." --Bookish

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