Skip to Main Content (Press Enter) Toggle side nav
Sensation Machines by Adam Wilson
Add Sensation Machines to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf

Sensation Machines

Best Seller
Sensation Machines by Adam Wilson
Paperback $17.00
Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9781641292863

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (1) +
  • Sep 07, 2021 | ISBN 9781641292863

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Jul 07, 2020 | ISBN 9781641291668

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Product Details


Praise for Sensation Machines

“Reads a little bit like Tom Wolfe in a futurist dystopia. There are full-throated riffs on materialism and tech surveillance, on simulation video gaming, white privilege and the lyrics of Eminem. A spirit of exhilaration fires the book’s best moments. We may be going to hell, but at least it’s fun to rant about.”
The Wall Street Journal

“A witty, incisive commentary on the fallout from a generation betrayed by the promise of the American dream that, it turns out, masked a foundation of greed, broken social structures, and the topsy-turvy values of capitalism first.”
—The Daily Beast

“Brilliant . . . Peel [it] one away, and it’s a paranoid near-future thriller with a deep swirl of dark humor circling around it . . . Wilson is a stylist with few contemporaries.”
Inside Hook

Sensation Machines might be set in the near future, but the concerns that fuel its plot—systemic racism, economic anxiety, and corporatist entities looking to sink laws that could lead to real change—feel decidedly relevant in 2020 . . . The characters are grappling for a better life; they’re also trying hard to keep their souls intact. And in the not-so-distant future, pulling that last one off is even harder than it is today.”

“Wilson forgoes the collegiate joke-making found in his short fiction, and moves into a territory of New Yorker family novels long-occupied by social novelists like Gary Shteyngart and Saul Bellow . . . Wilson handles each chapter of the book’s second and third acts with a degree of care and empathy that makes Sensation Machines something more—more than, say, Aldous Huxley typing out a futurist dramedy for Seth Rogen or Adam McKay.”
—Cleveland Review of Books

“Despite the book’s current relevance, Sensation Machines could have also been published a decade ago, alongside post-Great Recession, New York novels like Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story and Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask, which engage in similar humorous yet sad searches for the heart of a thoroughly mediated world . . . Yet Wilson’s various gadgets are secondary to more lasting concerns of love, grief, inequality, and uncertainty. Wilson wants to believe that human connection, though refracted by capitalism, branding, crises, and augmented reality visors, has not been degraded, that it is not a thing of the nostalgic past or the utopian future but a constant possibility, if we can just stop playing characters in someone else’s game long enough to create it.” 
Full Stop

“For a book set in the near-future, Sensation Machines feels pretty damn current. Social upheaval, antisemitism and class wars swirl in the background of the high-intensity novel.”
—Hey Alma

“With remarkable grace and wit, Adam Wilson puts the stethoscope to our national heart and diagnoses our deepest ills.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine and Intimations

Sensation Machines is pitch dark and pitch perfect—a whip-smart take on marriage, capitalism, grief, and loneliness in a farcical, not-so-distant future. Adam Wilson effortlessly toggles between wry humor and genuine existential dread; the result is lyrical and lewd, brilliant and bleak.”
—Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light

“Adam Wilson is a prose savant, and Sensation Machines is a not-so-small miracle. With its precise details about our current moment, profusion of voice and sound, Wilson’s new novel brings to mind everyone from Saul Bellow to Paul Beatty, Grace Paley to Zadie Smith. But his ideas and his syntax and his humor are entirely his. This is a great book by one of our funniest smartest sharpest contemporary novelists.”
—Daniel Torday, author of The Last Flight of Poxl West and Boomer 1
Sensation Machines is precision-engineered to entertain, enlighten, and unsettle. Adam Wilson is a master craftsman with a globe-sized heart.”
—Joshua Cohen, author of Book of Numbers

Sensation Machines is part techno-political thriller, part social satire, and part family drama, and it succeeds wonderfully on all fronts. The book is smart, funny, and fast-paced, with lots to say about the mess we’re in, but the thing that has stayed with me is its heart. Adam Wilson exemplifies that old Pynchonian dictum: Keep cool, but care.”
—Christopher Beha, author of The Index of Self-Destructive Acts

“Wilson’s observations are often sharp-witted, extracting humor from sources like video game addiction, cryptocurrency, and herd mentality . . . as Michael and Wendy’s marriage fractures, the author carefully braids their individual narratives to a satisfying, if inevitable, crescendo. This feels all too real.” 
Publisher’s Weekly

“A deft juxtaposition of contemporary American classes on par with Richard Price’s Lush Life.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“Wilson delights with his pop-culture savvy, crisp prose, and unapologetic observations of revolutionary aspirations.”

“[A] biting comedy of a post-Trump America . . . A murder, next-gen tech, videogame addiction and every kind of illegal drug figure into Wilson’s lulu of a plot, but the pleasure here is the sharpness of Wilson’s prose, his observant satire and the richly evocative feelings of loss.” 
Shelf Awareness

“A delayed bildungsroman for a whole generation . . . It draws upon Occupy Wall Street, criticisms of neoliberalism, the affronts represented by the presidency of Donald Trump, and New York cultural mainstays . . . As its earnest leads laud fairness but establish themselves as the greatest impediments to progress, Sensation Machines nods to the adage that, the more circumstances change, the more they stay the same.” 
Foreword Reviews

“Adam Wilson’s new novel is the first entry in a genre we might soon call ‘American pre-topianism’ . . . There’s grappling with internalized misogyny, hedge funds collapsing, treatises on Eminem, and oodles of invasive technology, and at the center of it all are Michael, Wendy, and a murder that might upend the whole country’s order. If each generation has a defining emotional bearing, like Gen X’s stranglehold on apathy, and the Boomers’ late-stage lurch from idealism into me-me Zen selfishness, Wilson posits the Elder Millennials (the Oregon Trail Generation) are perhaps defined by a strange sort of grief—an unshakable hope in the hopeless. It’s the kind of book that’s hyper of-the-times in order to understand recent history, and Sensation Machines understands America so well it’s almost mean.” 
Chris Lee, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Get the latest updates from Adam Wilson
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking SIGN UP, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top