Cover image for Famine
Komarnicki, Todd.
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Publication Information:
New York : Plume, 1998.

Physical Description:
276 pages ; 21 cm
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The corpse of a young man is found in one of Manhattan's most exclusive neighborhoods in the trendy East Village. Though his death appears to be self-willed, a police detective nevertheless decides the man was murdered and launches a maverick investigation.As the detective plunges into the mysterious case, his own past begins to intertwine with the history of the victim. Identities blur, names change, and at every step an unidentifiable woman and her infant daughter lurk in the shadows, not just watching, but somehow pulling the detective deeper into the mystery.' Exciting buzz on this talented young novelist.' Famine received terrific reviews in hardcover.' Paperback format is perfect for this urban Gen-X, noirish love story.' This hip, downtown novel is set in New York's trendy East Village.' Komarnicki has a growing reputation as a screenwriter.

Author Notes

Todd Komarnicki is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He lives in New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Homicide detective Daniel Bell is called to a crime scene in one of New York City's toniest neighborhoods. Confronted by the bloated corpse of a 27-year-old man, he refuses to accept the coroner's ruling of death by starvation; he's convinced it's murder. As Detective Bell runs a maverick investigation into the victim's background, his own life starts to disintegrate--he leaves his wife, sells his house, forgets to eat. He is also visited by a mysterious, beautiful woman who may or may not be the murderer. This novel is absolutely maddening. Intermittently, readers will glimpse the bright, intriguing premise that flickers just below the surface. Unfortunately, it's been obscured by a ton of angst-ridden verbiage and a slew of half-baked characters. Komarnicki (Free, 1993) is so busy tossing off metaphorical riffs on the nature of hunger that he's lost sight of a basic formula: too many Deep Thoughts plus a barely comprehensible story line will leave readers feeling woozy. --Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

The title of this haunting new novel by the author of Free (1993) alludes to the spiritual emptiness of its characters as much as to the literal starvation that claims the life of its protagonist, Daniel Rowan. Since the age of 14, when he inadvertently contributed to the death of his beloved younger brother, Daniel has been a troubled youth of the Holden Caulfield stripe. His fruitless quest for emotional nurturing from a family willfully oblivious to his pain culminates in his death from malnutrition, a fate so unbelievable to the investigating Detective Bell that it prompts an obsessive hunt for a possible murderer. Bell, who might have stepped out of one of Paul Auster's metaphysical mysteries, is a similarly love-starved individual who discovers increasingly eerie parallels between Daniel's life and his own as he intensely pursues Daniel's ghostly wife, Emma, as a possible suspect. Komarnicki alternates chapters presented from Daniel's and Bell's points of view, evoking, in the time and space that separates their lives, a world of unfulfilled longing and maladaptive coping as bleak and palpable as the novel's setting, Manhattan's Lower East Side. Hints of supernatural forces at work on both narrative threads subtly underscore the narrative's theme: the power of emotional need to create its own reality. A stylistic tour de force whose prose is often as spare and stark as the lives of its characters, this brooding variation on the detective tale turns the hunger for human feeling into rich food for thought. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the heart of Manhattan, a troubled young man named Daniel dies inexplicably of malnutrition. A short time later, a workaholic cabdriver dies similarly. Police detective Daniel Bell, who discovers Daniel's body, finds a curious resonance in his namesake's story and starts an investigation into these mysterious deaths. His suspicion that something other than chance is involved proves right when he encounters the spectral Emma, Daniel's wife. Intertwining Daniel's story with that of Bell, Komarnicki (Free, Doubleday, 1993) uses the mystery form to explore deeper issues of innocence and guilt. The murderer is not so much a person as a condition‘the hardness of heart that keeps individuals emotionally distant, or the addictions used to keep the world at bay. The real "famine" here is of the spirit. For most libraries.‘Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, Mass. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.