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Apocalypse for Beginners by Nicolas Dickner
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Apocalypse for Beginners

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Apocalypse for Beginners by Nicolas Dickner
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Dec 21, 2021 | ISBN 9781039005235 | 384 Minutes

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Praise

“Ramen noodles, the Berlin wall, David Suzuki, pretzels, white cowboy boots, Hiroshima, Kuwait, Nana Mouskouri, sparkly blue nailpolish, zombies, young love… Apocalypse for Beginners is fresh and quirky and darkly fun. Fans of Nikolski will not be disappointed.”
 — Annabel Lyon, author of The Golden Mean

“An enjoyably eccentric novel. . . . A bizarre and darkly funny journey. Part romance, part mystery, part absurdist comedy, it is a worthy follow-up to Dickner’s acclaimed debut.”
 — Winnipeg Free Press
 
“The surface sparkles with historical and pop-cultural references, a sweet and subtle love story and marvellous, quirky fixations (including David Suzuki, baseball stadiums and the number of lemons required to power an atomic bomb).”  
 — Quill & Quire

“Charming. . . . The novel twinkles with the same idiosyncratic rhythm that made Nikolski such a delight. . . . By turns sharp, thoughtful and sweet. . . . With a writer as nimble as Dickner in our midst, here’s hoping that [the world does not end] . . . any time soon.”
— Emily Landau, The Globe and Mail
 
“We’re reminded that part of what made Nikolski so deservedly popular was Dickner’s deft hand with tone and mood. . . . Those strengths are on even greater display in the new novel.”
— The Gazette

“This slickly composed novel glides between Quebec, Seattle and Tokyo and gleams with on-trend observation and doomsday cynicism.”
— The Independent
 
“An eccentric, ebullient romantic comedy about deep friendship and eternal love.”
— Kate Saunders, The Times 

Author Q&A

20 Writerly Questions for Nicolas Dickner


1. How would you summarize your book in one sentence?
It’s a playful novel about the possibility of leading a normal life (or any life at all) when you’ve been raised to wait for the end of the world.
 
2. How long did it take you to write this book?
Twenty months, give or take a few weeks.
 
3. Where is your favorite place to write?
Mostly home, but cafés are nice places too. Some background noise can work nicely on the brain.
 
4. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I go the biblical way: the ideal name must encapsulate the whole life and fate of the character. It’s almost more of a program than a name.
 
5. How many drafts do you go through?
It’s hard to keep the count, with computers. All the different layers blend in each other. Typically, I can go over most chapters about a dozen of times before feeling I’m getting somewhere.
 
6. If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
My next novel.
 
7. If your book were to become a movie, who would you like to see star in it?
Young, unknown actors.
 
8. What’s your favourite city in the world?
It would sound exotic to say Berlin or Barcelona, two amazing cities, but I actually very much enjoy living in Montréal.
 
9. If you could talk to any writer living or dead who would it be, and what would you ask?
No talking. I’d just like to play go with Georges Perec.
 
10. Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
Lots of music, usually looping it until I turns into some sort of cyclic background noise. Sometimes, but not very often, I may pick out music with a specific rhythm and color in order to influence my writing.
 
11. Who is the first person who gets to you read your manuscript?
I rely on a small group of first readers: my girlfriend, my editor in Québec City, and an old friend of mine who’s both a talented neurobiologist and brilliant reader.
 
12. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Let’s say mangas – but really, is there any such thing as guilt, as far as reading is concerned?
 
13. What’s on your nightstand right now?
The imposing Mordecai: The Life & Times by Charles Foran. (My nightstand is actually leaning.) I’m also rereading A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, before viewing the BBC redux. And Deep Café by Malcolm Reid, a book about Leonard Cohen and the counterculture in Montréal in the mid-sixties.
 
14. What is the first book you remember reading?
The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle.
 
15. Did you always want to be a writer?
Not really. I mostly wanted to be a scientist, but I turned out badly.
 
16. What do you drink or eat while you write?
Green oolong from Taiwan, cheap Orange Pekoe, generic espresso coffee, water. Apples sliced in quarters with an old Opinel. Spoonfuls of honey. Pretzels. Fingernails.
 
17. Typewriter, laptop, or pen & paper?
Mac Mini, MacBook Pro and napkins.
 
18. What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?
Not much, I guess. Maybe I had an exasperated sigh. I was dealing with a small publishing house, and I had been waiting over two years before getting that “yes”.
 
19. How do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
Trial and error – and that’s what I hate the most about my trade. I often rewrote hundreds of pages to change the narrator and/or the narration time. It’s my own, tiny Hell.
 
20. What is the best gift someone could give a writer?
Time.

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