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The Word Exchange 

by Alena Graedon (Bond Street)

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Publishing industry insider Alena Graedon's debut novel The Word Exchange invokes modern Luddite disgust with Facebook and paranoia about Google Glass. Advertised as "a dystopian novel for the digital age," Graedon pens a high-data NYC satire depicting industry and cultural wars between high-tech behemoth Synchronic and The North American Dictionary of the English Language. Synchronic, manufacturer of wireless communication devices whose hardware physically integrates with the human nervous system, seeks to buy, then liquidate, NADEL's "assets" (words). Replete with recondite NYC social history, Graedon's rampant literary ambition, like her eager protagonist, NADEL junior editor Anana Johnson, charms. Rookie charisma aside, Graedon plausibly plumbs sociological implications of backward (pneumatic tube infrastructure?!) and futuristic technologies to create end-game, doomsday scenarios wherein historically contrary worldviews finally collide. The Word Exchange, intellectually well integrated (albeit with too many marginal characters), is "book smart"---an exciting, fundamental thesis pregnant with unexplored future literary ideas.

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Vol 25, No 8
July 20, 2017

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