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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

Charmed Particles by Chrissy Kolaya

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Charmed Particles by Chrissy Kolaya


Charmed Particles by Chrissy Kolaya


Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN: 978-1-938103-17-9

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Rural Nicolet, Illinois, is a city anchored between two opposing forces, a living history museum devoted to the American frontier and a laboratory for experiments in high-energy particle physics. When the proposal to build the Superconducting Super Collider under the town sparks debate between the scientists and the locals, two families find themselves on opposite sides of controversy that fractures the community, exposing deep cultural rifts between longtime friends

Abhijat, a scientist from India now working at the National Accelerator Research Laboratory, has a sole obsession: making a name for himself as one of the great theoretical physicists. The search for answers to the universe’s first questions blinds him to the burgeoning distance between him and his wife, Sarala, who devotes herself to their daughter Meena and assimilating into suburban America. Across town, Rose Winchester strives to raise precocious Lily, stitching together an unconventional marriage from the brief visits and vibrant letters of her husband Randolph, who fancies himself the last great gentleman explorer.

With incisive prose and infinite humanity, Charmed Particles traces the collision of past and progress, science and tradition, and the unimagined elements that may arise in the aftermath.

Praise for Charmed Particles

Charmed Particles is a deftly constructed fable of modernity told in elegant, pellucid prose. Kolaya draws her characters with affectionate acuity and the whole reminds me—in its depiction of childhood precocity and earnest adult eccentricity—of one of Wes Anderson’s wry wonders.”

Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl

“A wonderfully impish satire, Chrissy Kolaya’s Charmed Particles is all about various cross-cultural, cross-temporal, and cross-spatial explorations as charged with mystery, magic, and possibility as the high-energy particle physics conducted at the National Accelerator Research Lab that forms the novel’s literal and metaphoric heart. What a sparkling debut.”

Lance Olsen, author of Theories of Forgetting

Charmed Particles is inspired by very real stories straight from today’s headlines, yet managed to mesmerize me in the way of an intoxicating fairytale. Kolaya’s characters are flawed, though sympathetic citizens, gazing suspiciously at one another across great chasms of misunderstanding—passionately divided. Yet in her alchemical hands we’re shown what is possible when we have the courage to venture deep within our wounded hearts: sweet magic.”

Susan Power, author of Grass Dancer

“Chrissy Kolaya writes from a place of deep intelligence, humor, and sympathy about a cast of varied, marvelously drawn characters. This debut novel is an extremely accomplished and affecting story about family, ambition, the immigrant experience, and the inexorable forward movement of Time and its much-admired handmaiden Progress. Truly wonderful.”

Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts and Paris, He Said

“Having already established herself as an award-winning poet and master of short stories, Chrissy Kolaya has proven herself—with this debut novel—to be a brilliant novelist as well. With its thoughtful consideration of community, science, and the balance between work and life Charmed Particles is an engaging, provoking, and utterly charming debut.”

Andrew Carroll, author of the New York Times bestsellers War Letters and Behind the Lines 

Charmed Particles is more than an insightful, yet fictional, depiction of the human impact on different communities concerned with the late 20th-century Superconducting Super Collider. Unfolding gently through the evolving stories of two young families, it builds to a moment of colliding perspectives over pioneering progress in physics versus historical physical preservation and ultimately reveals the shared aspirations of both. You will enjoy this tender, timely, and thought-provoking first novel by Chrissy Kolaya.”

Adrienne Kolb, co-author of Tunnel Visions: The Rise and Fall of the Superconducting Super Collider

About the author

Chrissy Kolaya’s poems and short fiction have appeared in anthologies by Norton, Milkweed Editions, the 50th Anniversary Best of Crazyhorse collection, and in a number of literary journals. In support for her work, Kolaya has received grants and awards from the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, the Jerome Foundation, the Loft Literary Center, and the Minnesota State Arts Board, among others. She’s lived in New York, California, Indiana, Illinois, and Alabama, and now lives and teaches writing in Minnesota, where she’s one of the co-founders of the Prairie Gate Literary Festival. She’s the author of a book of poems, Any Anxious Body