Paperback $16.00

Aug 11, 2009 | 368 Pages

Ebook $11.99

Aug 26, 2008

  • Paperback $16.00

    Aug 11, 2009 | 368 Pages

  • Ebook $11.99

    Aug 26, 2008

Awards

Alex Award – YALSA WINNER 2009

Praise

"Every once in a while — if you are very lucky — you come upon a novel so marvelous and enchanting and rare that you wish everyone in the world would read it, as well. The Good Thief is just such a book — a beautifully composed work of literary magic."—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

"Darkly transporting … [In] The Good Thief, the reader can find plain-spoken fiction full of traditional virtues: strong plotting, pure lucidity, visceral momentum and a total absence of writerly mannerisms. In Ms. Tinti’s case that means an American Dickensian tale with touches of Harry Potterish whimsy, along with a macabre streak of spooky New England history."—New York Times

"Tinti, like John Barth with his postmodern picturesque classic, The Sot-Weed Factor, has created one of the freshest, most beguiling narratives this side of Oliver Twist."—O: The Oprah Magazine

"Hannah Tinti has written a lightning strike of a novel—beautiful and haunting and ever so bright. She is a 21st century Robert Louis Stevenson, an adventuress who lays bare her character’s hearts with a precision and a fearlessness that will leave you shaken." —Junot Díaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critic’s Circle Award for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"The Good Thief‘s characters are weird and wonderful…. [It] has all the makings of a classic—a hero, a villain and a rollicking good tale set in 19th century New England about a good boy who gets mixed up with a lot of bad men…. All of that, along with its humor, ingenuity and fast pace, make The Good Thief compelling."—San Francisco Chronicle

“Ren lives every child’s fantasy, to leave a mundane life for an adventure in which he discovers who he was supposed to be and who he could yet become…. [His] mischievous ways earned the character comparisons to Huck Finn and Oliver Twist. And the plot, which winds its way through a mousetrap factory and the memory of a family tragedy, certainly give him a literary playground in which to frolic.”—Associated Press

"The Good Thief is a dark, Dickensian fable filled with enough surprises to keep a reader turning pages long past midnight. Irresistibly strange, and just plain irresistible."—Karl Iagnemma

The Good Thief is wry, wise, deeply felt and ingeniously plotted, a wonderful, riveting spin on the tale of abandoned boys gone bad, or good, or both. Move over Huck Finn and Oliver Twist, make room for Ren, The Good Thief‘s one handed but quick fingered and witted orphan, thief, hero — I loved him, and his book.” — Brock Clarke, author of An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England

"The Good Thief is a book that deserves comparison to the work of classic authors like Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens—not only because it’s a remarkable piece of work, but also because it reminded me of what it used to be like, when I was a kid, to be truly engrossed in a book. You lift your head and hours have passed, and you realize that you’ve been utterly drawn into a world that is as vivid and real as your own. A masterful achievement."—Dan Chaon, author of National Book Award finalist Among the Missing, and You Remind Me of Me

The Good Thief is a magical book. Everything worth writing about is in it: love, death and—more than anything else—family.  I wish I’d written it.”—Daniel Wallace author of Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician

"Hannah Tinti writes with uncommon grace and stunning insight. Her quirky tribe of outcasts will break into your dreams and steal your spirit. Surrender to them! Let your heart be broken! Only then will you know the tender thrill of their wild companionship. The Good Thief is pure delight. When you wake from this dream, you will wake bedazzled".—Melanie Rae Thon, author of Iona Moon and Sweet Hearts

“The key to Tinti’s success with this novel is the constant tension between tenderness and peril, a tension that she ratchets up until the final pages…. [With] enough harrowing scrapes and turns to satisfy your inner Dickens.”—Washington Post Book World

“A debut novel so rich that you’ll hope it becomes the first in a series…. Part coming-of-age tale and part pure adventure, The Good Thief evokes Charles Dickens with its blend of humor, social commentary and poignancy.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Tightly plotted, unmannered, irresistible. Tinti writes in a lean, pitch-perfect prose that grabs the reader’s mind and won’t let go. The incidents she relates are dark and grim, but the telling leaves room for humanity and humor.”—Orlando Sentinel

“Difficult to put down…A cavalcade of chase scenes, suspenseful moments and revelations.”—Seattle Times

“The kind of story that might have kept you reading all day when you were home sick from school…. Writing for adults while keeping to a child’s perspective isn’t easy, and Tinti makes it look effortless.”—New York Times Book Review

“Tinti secures her place as one of the sharpest, slyest young American novelists."—Entertainment Weekly (A-)

“[A] striking debut novel…Unfolds like a Robert Louis Stevenson tale retold amid the hardscrabble squalor of Colonial New England.  The sheer strangeness of the story is beguiling…Good fun.”—The New Yorker

“A very good book indeed…Reminds you why you fell in love with reading in the first place…Tinti’s imaginative powers…reacquaint us with our own.  And that’s a gift to be cherished…”—Boston Globe

“[A] dark but nimble variation on that favorite 19th-century literary trope, the woeful orphan story…. Ren becomes the surprising moral center of a colorful band of misfits and grave robbers. His sentimental education about what it means to be a ‘good’ boy makes for a Dickens of a tale.”—USAToday.com

"In her highly original debut novel, [Tinti] renders the horrors and wonders she concocts utterly believable and rich in implication as she creates a darkly comedic and bewitching, sinister yet life-affirming tale about the eternal battle between good and evil." —Booklist, starred review

“Ren, with his love for religion and penchant for thievery, is immediately likeable…. A novel full of scams, shams and underhanded deals and populated by hustlers, thieves and grave robbers.”—Publishers Weekly

“Marvelously satisfying…rich with sensory details, surprising twists and living, breathing characters to root for." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Bracing—and embracing … etches Hannah Tinti’s name on the literary map.”—Go: AirTran Magazine


From the Hardcover edition.

Author Q&A

Q&A with Hannah Tinti about her new novel, The Good Thief

Why did you decide to set your novel in New England?

I wanted The Good Thief to take place in America in the 1800s, and New England felt like the perfect place. I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts–famous for the witch trials and as the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne–so stepping into the time period was actually quite natural for me. Most of the houses in the neighborhood where I grew up were built in the 1700s and 1800s, and it was not unusual to have a back staircase, or fireplaces in nearly every room, low ceilings or small latched pantry doors. Whenever my family worked outside in our small garden, we were constantly digging up things from the past–fragments of blue and white china plates, broken clay pipes, or crushed shells that used to line the path to a neighboring carriage house. Once, my grandmother found a Spanish Reale from the 1700s. This unearthing of tangible history, and being conscious every day of the people who have lived in places before you is something common in Europe and other parts of the world, but in America it is more unusual. In any event, it made a lasting impression on me, and has certainly wound its way throughout The Good Thief.

How did you come up with the title The Good Thief?

Originally I had planned to call the book Resurrection Men. Then, for a number of reasons, I had to change it. I was at a loss for a long time, and nothing seemed appropriate. Finally, I gave an early draft of the novel to my mother, who worked for many years as a librarian and has read more books than anyone else I know. She came up with The Good Thief, and as soon as she said it I knew it was the right title. There is a lot of stealing going on throughout the book, with mixed intentions and results. I also liked the biblical reference of the Good Thief (also known as Saint Dismas), who was one of the men crucified with Jesus Christ on Golgotha. His story is one of redemption, at the very last minute, and that suits this novel perfectly.

What are ‘Resurrection Men’?

A number of years ago I was given a copy of Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten English, a collection of words that have fallen out of use in the English language. One of the words was “Resurrection Men," and it included a brief description of what the word meant:
“Body-snatchers, those who broke open the coffins of the newly buried to supply the demands of the surgical and medical schools. The first recorded instance of the practice was in 1742, and it flourished particularly until the passing of the Anatomy Act in 1832. The resurrectionist took the corpse naked, this being in law a misdemeanor, as opposed to a felony if garments were taken as well…First applied to Burke and Hare in 1829, who rifled graves to sell the bodies for dissection, and sometimes even murdered people for the same purpose.”–Ebenezer Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, excerpted by Jeffrey Kacirk in Forgotten English.
I was drawn to the moral murkiness of these resurrection men. They were doing something terrible–desecrating graves–but with the knowledge of the medical schools and partial acceptance from the law. These thieves did it for the money, but they also inadvertently saved others from dying by providing the test subjects doctors needed to further their science. I tore out the definition of "Resurrection Men," and pasted it into my journal with a note–possible novel? That was six years ago.

How did you come up with the character of Ren, and why does he have only one hand?


After learning the definition of Resurrection Men, a scene began to form in my head. It was a moonlit night, and a small boy was holding the reins of a horse and wagon outside a graveyard. I didn’t know anything about the boy, only that he was waiting for the resurrection men to bring the bodies, and that he was terrified. This was the first chapter I wrote of The Good Thief, and it became the center of the book.
Writing for me has always been an intuitive and mysterious process. As I expanded the scene, I began to describe the boy, and wrote that he was holding the reins of the horse with his right hand. But when I tried to say what he was doing with his left I faltered. Then I realized–he didn’t have a left hand. And suddenly the boy was alive. This is how I discovered Ren’s secret, and I used it to unlock his character. It answered so many questions about him–why he was alone, and how he might have fallen in with these dangerous men.

The Good Thief has been compared to the work of Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens. Did you set out to write an adventure tale?

It’s humbling to be compared with these master storytellers. Stevenson and Dickens were my heroes growing up, along with James Fenimore Cooper. I’m not sure if I set out purposely to write an adventure story, but I was certainly influenced by these great writers. Who could forget the scene in Kidnapped where David Balfour climbs the empty staircase and nearly falls? Or when Magwitch appears on the moor in Great Expectations? Whenever I felt daunted by the task before me (The Good Thief is my first novel), I went back to this important lesson–write something that you would like to read yourself–and tried to put it in motion on the page. Once I started it was hard to stop. I like to fall into books; to read about strange places and about characters who make me care deeply. I also like to be surprised at what’s going to happen next.

What is a wishing stone?

A wishing stone is a rock, usually found near water, with an unbroken white line circling it completely. It is good for one wish to come true. When I was a child I would collect them. Later, I was reintroduced to them at an important time in my life. At the beginning of The Good Thief, Ren comes into possession of one. It is his golden ticket, and this wish reverberates throughout the rest of the book, as do the stones themselves.


From the Hardcover edition.

 

Q&A with Hannah Tinti about her new novel, The Good Thief

Why did you decide to set your novel in New England?

I wanted The Good Thief to take place in America in the 1800s, and New England felt like the perfect place. I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts–famous for the witch trials and as the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne–so stepping into the time period was actually quite natural for me. Most of the houses in the neighborhood where I grew up were built in the 1700s and 1800s, and it was not unusual to have a back staircase, or fireplaces in nearly every room, low ceilings or small latched pantry doors. Whenever my family worked outside in our small garden, we were constantly digging up things from the past–fragments of blue and white china plates, broken clay pipes, or crushed shells that used to line the path to a neighboring carriage house. Once, my grandmother found a Spanish Reale from the 1700s. This unearthing of tangible history, and being conscious every day of the people who have lived in places before you is something common in Europe and other parts of the world, but in America it is more unusual. In any event, it made a lasting impression on me, and has certainly wound its way throughout The Good Thief.

How did you come up with the title The Good Thief?

Originally I had planned to call the book Resurrection Men. Then, for a number of reasons, I had to change it. I was at a loss for a long time, and nothing seemed appropriate. Finally, I gave an early draft of the novel to my mother, who worked for many years as a librarian and has read more books than anyone else I know. She came up with The Good Thief, and as soon as she said it I knew it was the right title. There is a lot of stealing going on throughout the book, with mixed intentions and results. I also liked the biblical reference of the Good Thief (also known as Saint Dismas), who was one of the men crucified with Jesus Christ on Golgotha. His story is one of redemption, at the very last minute, and that suits this novel perfectly.

What are ‘Resurrection Men’?

A number of years ago I was given a copy of Jeffrey Kacirk’s Forgotten English, a collection of words that have fallen out of use in the English language. One of the words was “Resurrection Men," and it included a brief description of what the word meant:
“Body-snatchers, those who broke open the coffins of the newly buried to supply the demands of the surgical and medical schools. The first recorded instance of the practice was in 1742, and it flourished particularly until the passing of the Anatomy Act in 1832. The resurrectionist took the corpse naked, this being in law a misdemeanor, as opposed to a felony if garments were taken as well…First applied to Burke and Hare in 1829, who rifled graves to sell the bodies for dissection, and sometimes even murdered people for the same purpose.”–Ebenezer Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, excerpted by Jeffrey Kacirk in Forgotten English.
I was drawn to the moral murkiness of these resurrection men. They were doing something terrible–desecrating graves–but with the knowledge of the medical schools and partial acceptance from the law. These thieves did it for the money, but they also inadvertently saved others from dying by providing the test subjects doctors needed to further their science. I tore out the definition of "Resurrection Men," and pasted it into my journal with a note–possible novel? That was six years ago.

How did you come up with the character of Ren, and why does he have only one hand?


After learning the definition of Resurrection Men, a scene began to form in my head. It was a moonlit night, and a small boy was holding the reins of a horse and wagon outside a graveyard. I didn’t know anything about the boy, only that he was waiting for the resurrection men to bring the bodies, and that he was terrified. This was the first chapter I wrote of The Good Thief, and it became the center of the book.
Writing for me has always been an intuitive and mysterious process. As I expanded the scene, I began to describe the boy, and wrote that he was holding the reins of the horse with his right hand. But when I tried to say what he was doing with his left I faltered. Then I realized–he didn’t have a left hand. And suddenly the boy was alive. This is how I discovered Ren’s secret, and I used it to unlock his character. It answered so many questions about him–why he was alone, and how he might have fallen in with these dangerous men.

The Good Thief has been compared to the work of Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens. Did you set out to write an adventure tale?

It’s humbling to be compared with these master storytellers. Stevenson and Dickens were my heroes growing up, along with James Fenimore Cooper. I’m not sure if I set out purposely to write an adventure story, but I was certainly influenced by these great writers. Who could forget the scene in Kidnapped where David Balfour climbs the empty staircase and nearly falls? Or when Magwitch appears on the moor in Great Expectations? Whenever I felt daunted by the task before me (The Good Thief is my first novel), I went back to this important lesson–write something that you would like to read yourself–and tried to put it in motion on the page. Once I started it was hard to stop. I like to fall into books; to read about strange places and about characters who make me care deeply. I also like to be surprised at what’s going to happen next.

What is a wishing stone?

A wishing stone is a rock, usually found near water, with an unbroken white line circling it completely. It is good for one wish to come true. When I was a child I would collect them. Later, I was reintroduced to them at an important time in my life. At the beginning of The Good Thief, Ren comes into possession of one. It is his golden ticket, and this wish reverberates throughout the rest of the book, as do the stones themselves.


From the Hardcover edition.

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