A HIGHLY UNLIKELY SCENARIO

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In the not-too-distant future, competing giant fast-food factions rule the world. Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, a Pythagorean pizza chain, in a lonely but highly surveilled home office, answering calls on his complaints hotline. It’s a boring job, but Leonard likes it—there’s a set answer for every scenario, and he never has to leave his house. Except then he starts getting calls from Marco, who claims to be a thirteenth-century explorer just returned from Cathay. What do you say to a caller like that? Plus, Neetsa Pizza doesn’t like it when you go off-script.

Meanwhile, Leonard’s sister keeps disappearing on secret missions with her “book club,” leaving him to take care of his nephew, which means Leonard has to go outside. And outside is where the trouble starts.

A dazzling debut novel wherein medieval Kabbalists, rare book librarians, and Latter-Day Baconians skirmish for control over secret mystical knowledge, and one Neetsa Pizza employee discovers that you can’t save the world with pizza coupons.

Listen to an excerpt here!

To learn more about the writing of A Highly Unlikely Scenario, check out these blog posts and articles:

The Big Idea,” John Scalzi’s Whatever
Book Notes,” Large-Hearted Boy
Research Notes: Evading the Scramasax,” Necessary Fiction
The Power of the Aleph” Jewish Book Council’s Prosen People
On Roman Architecture and Crayon-Colored Sleeping Togs,” Glimmer Train Bulletin
The Pg 69 Test

 

 
 

ABOUT ME

rachel-cantor-photo-credit-marianne-barcellonaI am the author of the novel A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World, forthcoming from Melville House in January 2014.

My stories have appeared in magazines such as the Paris Review, One Story, Ninth Letter, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Fence, and Volume 1 Brooklyn. They have been anthologized, nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, short-listed by both the O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories, and awarded runner-up Bridport and Graywolf/SLS Prizes. I have also been awarded fellowships to more than a dozen artists’ colonies, both in the U.S. and abroad, as well as generous scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writing Conferences.

I live in New York, city of my heart, in the writerly borough of Brooklyn, but have at various points made my home in most U.S. states between Virginia and Vermont. In addition to writing fiction, I freelance as a writer for nonprofits that work in developing countries. In that capacity, I’ve worked everywhere from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe (most recently in Nigeria, Senegal, and India). I spent much of my adolescence in Rome, and as a young one, I wandered the world, working on food festivals in Melbourne, Australia, and European jazz festivals in France; living in rural Gujarat while interning for a Gandhian nonprofit; and teaching Afghan women refugees in Peshwar, Pakistan. I am a native New Englander; my love for the Boston Red Sox is fanatical. I am, always, at work on another book.

To learn more about me, check out these interviews, blog posts, and podcasts:

Blurring the Genre Line,” interview, Publishers’ Weekly
Interview, Brad Listi’s Other People podcast
Book Brahmin,” interview, Shelf Awareness
Interview, Joyland podcast
Peer Review: Rachel Cantor & Jeremy P. Bushnell on Their Debut Novels,” The Quietus
Interview, Late Night Library Rookie Report
Interview, Paste Magazine
My First Anthology,” Quivering Pen
Interview, The Qwillery

And here’s some fun stuff I did:

The 10 Worst Jobs in Books,” Publishers’ Weekly
The Best Fiction Featuring Real Writers,” The Guardian
My Guilty Pleasure,” NPR

 
 

EVENTS

READING DATES (subject to change)

JANUARY 15, 2014 – GREENLIGHT BOOKS, BROOKLYN – 7:30 p.m.

JANUARY 19, 2014 – LIT AT LARK READING SERIES, BROOKLYN – 5 p.m.

JANUARY 23, 2014 – 192 BOOKS, NEW YORK (CHELSEA) – 7 p.m.

JANUARY 24, 2014 – HARVARD BOOKSTORE, CAMBRIDGE – 7 p.m.

JANUARY 25, 2014 – ALA MIDWINTER MEETING, DEBUT AUTHORS PANEL, PHILADELPHIA – 3 p.m.

JANUARY 25, 2014 – BIG BLUE MARBLE BOOKSTORE, PHILADELPHIA – 7 p.m.

FEBRUARY 27, 2014 – ASSOCIATED WRITERS & WRITING PROGRAMS CONFERENCE, SEATTLE – 9 a.m.

MARCH 1, 2014 – VILLAGE BOOKS, BELLINGHAM – 4 p.m.

MARCH 3, 2014 – ELLIOTT BAY, SEATTLE – 7 p.m.

MARCH 4, 2014 – POWELL’S, PORTLAND – 7:30 p.m.

MARCH 5, 2014 – A GREAT GOOD PLACE FOR BOOKS, OAKLAND – 7 p.m.

MARCH 8, 2014 – WRITERS WITH DRINKS, SAN FRANCISCO – 7:30 p.m.

MARCH 16, 2014 – KGB, NEW YORK – 7 p.m.

MARCH 19, 2014 – NYC TEEN AUTHOR FESTIVAL, Mulberry Street NY Public Library – 6 p.m.

MARCH 20, 2014 – KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY, KANSAS CITY – Reception – 6 p.m. | Reading – 6:30 p.m.

MARCH 22, 2014 – VIRGINIA FESTIVAL OF THE BOOK, CHARLOTTESVILLE – 4 p.m.

APRIL 30, 2014 – HOUSING WORKS BOOKSTORE CAFE, Superhero Stories, 126 Crosby Street, NEW YORK – 7 p.m.

MAY 1, 2014 – SWEET! ACTORS READING WRITERS, Three of Cups, 83 First Ave. NEW YORK – 7:30 p.m.

MAY 23, 2014 – AN EVENING WITH THE ONE STORY DEBUTANTES, GREENLIGHT BOOKS, BROOKLYN – 7:30 p.m.

AUGUST 11, 2014 – FRANKLIN PARK, Brooklyn – 8 p.m.

SEPTEMBER 25-28, 2014 – PYGMALION FESTIVAL, URBANA-CHAMPAIGN – tba

 
 

WRITINGS

You can hear me read here:

A Highly Unlikely Scenario (excerpt + Q&A), 192 Books, New York City

A Highly Unlikely Scenario (excerpt), from Poets & Writers magazine.

A Highly Unlikely Scenario (excerpt), reading for One Story, Pianos Bar, New York City

“White Sky,” Live at the Kelly Writers’ House, Philadelphia

A Highly Unlikely Scenario (excerpt), Periodically Speaking, NY Public Library, New York City

My stories have been published in literary magazines. Many are still available. Visit these literary websites and have a look at the wonderful work they do!

“Everyone’s a Poet,” Ninth Letter (forthcoming)

Dead Dresses,” Kenyon Review (forthcoming)

Present Perfect,” Five Chapters (January 24, 2014)

Dear Sirs,” Vol. 1 Brooklyn (April 21, 2013)

Love Drugstore,” Kenyon Review (Vol. 33, No. 3, 2011)

Chuliak,” Post Road (No. 19, 2010)

Confessions of a Cerebral Lover,” Fence (Vol. 12, No. 2, 2009-10)

Assignment,” The Normal School (Vol. 2, No. 2, 2009)

Tibet, New York,” New England Review (Vol. 29, No. 4, 2008)

Priscilla Learns a Lesson,” Redivider (Vol. 5, No. 2, 2008)

Being the Life of Samuel Argento, M.D., Before the Fateful Day on Which He Meets Celine,”Denver Quarterly (Vol. 42, No. 2, 2008)

Zanzibar, Bereft,“ Ninth Letter (2006)

Picnic After the Flood,” One Story (2006)

Slave for a Day,” New England Review (Vol. 24, No. 4, 2004)

Paige,” Antioch Review (Vol. 61, No. 4, 2003)

“Rose No One,” Chelsea (No. 72, 2002)

Do You Know This Child,” Gargoyle (No. 45, 2002)

Hello, I’m Cora,“ New England Review (Vol. 23, No. 3, 2002)

I Know Who You Are,” Greensboro Review (No. 72, 2002)

“White Sky,” DoubleTake (2001)

Minyan of One,” The Paris Review (No. 155, 2000)

Rosaria 1988,” New England Review (Vol. 20, No. 4, 1999)

I’ve also had the great good fortune to be published in some terrific anthologies:

Riff on a Plastic Glove,” The Petroleum Manga (Punctum Books, March 2014)

“Lives of the Poet, pg. 85,” Flashed: Sudden Stories in Prose and Comics (Pressgang, forthcoming)

Half-Life of a Stolen Sister,” Bridport Prize Anthology (UK 2011)

White Sky,” Flight Patterns (Grove Press/Open City Books, 2009) 

 
 

CONTACT ME

For all rights inquiries, please contact Valerie Merians at Melville House.
Publishing: vm@mhpbooks.com.

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