Ben Lerner

Published: 25 June 2015
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781847088932


In the past year, the narrator of 10:04 has enjoyed unexpected literary success, been diagnosed with a potentially fatal heart condition, and been asked by his best friend to help her conceive a child. Now, in a New York of increasingly frequent superstorms and political unrest, he must reckon with his biological mortality, the possibility of a literary afterlife, and the prospect of (unconventional) fatherhood in a city that might soon be under water.

In prose that Jonathan Franzen has called 'hilarious... cracklingly intelligent... and original in every sentence', Lerner's new novel charts an exhilarating course through the contemporary landscape of sex, friendship, memory, art and politics, and captures what it is like to be alive right now.

About the author

Image of Ben Lerner

BEN LERNER was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations, and is the author of two internationally acclaimed novels, Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04. He has published three poetry collections: The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw (a finalist for the National Book Award), and Mean Free Path. In 2011, he became the first American to win the Mu¨nster Prize for International Poetry. Lerner lives and teaches in Brooklyn. More about the author


‘[10:04 is] contemplative and tender... Out of the ephemera of everyday life, Lerner has created a work of great artifice, knitted together by dozens of images... I doubt I'll read a finer novel this year’ Jonathan Beckman



‘[10:04 is] contemplative and tender... Out of the ephemera of everyday life, Lerner has created a work of great artifice, knitted together by dozens of images... I doubt I'll read a finer novel this year’ Jonathan Beckman

‘[10:04] is an extremely funny book [and] Lerner is a gripping storyteller... [A] dazzling, absorbing novel’ Catherine O’Flynn

‘[In] 10:04, Lerner is saying that life is too fragmented, too multifarious to be narrowed down to one single narrative, but that doesn't mean it can't be captured, in all its heartbreaking variety, in the pages of a novel... Lerner is a great writer and 10:04 a great novel’ Alex Preston

‘[Lerner is] one of those writers you're really happy to have describing your world: wry, witty, always surprising... If you like language, you'll love [10:04]’ Richard Godwin

10:04 exists precariously and brilliantly on the edges of several genres. Preoccupied with apocalyptic visions and with the value of art, 10:04 suggests that the future of the novel is hopeful’

10:04 is wonderfully intelligent, full of intricate formal devices, literary references and various hidden repositories of meaning... It is also a tentative, tender, and achingly uncertain story of a man becoming a father

10:04 jangles and shifts, it zigs and zags like thoughts pinging through a cerebral cortex... [it] whips along with the force of a skipping rope, taut and glimmering’

10:04 is a clever book. Lerner's style [...] super-confident [and] the chronology leaps about nimbly.... One has to admire the virtuosity’ Brandon Robshaw

10:04 is an accomplished work, and a mature one... wonderful indeed’ Jonathan Gibbs

‘A funny, deeply observational metafictional romp’

‘A generous, provocative, ambitious Chinese box of a novel... a near-perfect piece of literature, written with the full force of Lerner's intellectual, aesthetic, and empathetic powers, which are as considerable as they are vitalizing... A magnum opus’

‘A neon Rubik's Cube of a book... 10:04 reads like a collage: a scrapbook bursting with quotations, puzzles, metafictional diary entries, conversations and printed images, assembled in a future where the word "novel" has lost its original meaning, and shot back into the past where it stretches out its hand... A clever and timely work’ Philip Maughan

‘A rich, sophisticated novel ... Brilliant’

‘A skilled and singular voice’ Stoddard Martin

‘A sneakily visionary novel masquerading as a comic one. The world Ben Lerner describes is recognizably ours. Why then is it so thrilling and unnerving to wander through it?’ Jenny Offill, author

‘A stunningly achieved work of narrative fiction’ Cal Doyle

‘An impressive and even entertaining book - very well-written and scarily clever’

‘Ben Lerner is a brilliant novelist, and one unafraid to make of the novel something truly new. 10:04 is a work of endless wit, pleasure, relevance, and vitality’ Rachel Kushner, author

‘Brave and humane... 10:04 is deeply political because it looks imaginatively at our unequal world and creates a renewed sense of possibility about the future’ Max Lui

‘Brilliant... Contemplative and tender... I doubt I'll read a finer novel this year'’

‘Dazzling [and] absorbing... This is an extremely funny book, and a political one... It is filled with moments of transcendence and glimpses of alternative ways of being and perceiving’ Catherine O’Flynn

‘I expected to love and, with relief, did love Ben Lerner's second novel 10:04Joe Dunthorne

‘In stunningly hypnotic prose... this masterful, at times dizzying novel re-evaluates not just what fiction can do but what it is. Hilarious and incisive... [it] achieves brilliance, at once a study of how fiction functions and an expansive catalog of life’

‘It's clear Ben Lerner is stupendously, murderously talented. 10:04 is clever, strange, funny and original’ Joe Dunthorne, author

‘Lerner captures in often beautiful and sometimes hilarious style the rhythms, dissonances, and ambiguities of New York City... Lerner pulls this complex effort off with verve and a keen satiric eye and ear. This is a modern, very New York, and unique literary novel’

‘Lerner carries off his conceit with aplomb, thanks to his intelligence, seriousness and gift for social satire’ Neville Hawcock

‘Lerner is among the most interesting young American novelists at present... In his books, little happens, yet everything happens. Small moments come steeped in vertiginous magic... A constantly vivid observer of the world [...] we come to relish seeing the world through [his] eyes’

‘Lerner is doing something different with his metafictional plot: he's showing us, in good faith, how fiction gets written. Remarkable’ Elaine Blair

‘Lerner packs so much brilliance and humor into each episode... Ingenious’

‘Lerner spans high- and lowbrow effortlessly... As much as I adored Leaving the Atocha Station, 10:04 is an improvement on those ideas in every single way. The book is more ambitious, more intelligent, and, somehow, even more hysterical’

‘Lerner tiptoes between satire and sincerity to serve up a sparky comedy about the first-world problem of how to live well in the knowledge of wider suffering’ Anthony Cummins

‘Lerner writes with a poet's attention to language... Brilliant’ Hari Kunzru

‘Lerner writes with supercool irony about the farcical everyday extremities of contemporary life [and] manages to combine intellectual seriousness with scouring self- and social satire... [An] impressive tour of his hothouse literary world’ Randy Boyagoda

‘Lerner's masterclass in metafiction breaches the boundaries between fiction and real-life, narrator and author... It's a clever, funny discourse on the processes of writing fiction’ Lucy Scholes

‘Lerner's musings are tricksy and self-referential, which could be as dull as ditchwater in the wrong hands, but here the literary fun and games are fresh and original... Brilliant, smart and entertaining’ Eithne Farry

‘Lerner's work is an ever-expanding universe... like the light from a dead star, 10:04 will illuminate you to yourself for a long time to come’

‘Luminous, intelligent, poignant, and funny... 10:04 is a rare achievement. This is only Lerner's second novel, and yet to talk about mere "promise" seems insufficient. Even if he writes nothing else for the rest of his life, this is a book that belongs to the future’ Giles Harvey

‘Much-praised, strikingly meditative’ Alex Clark ‘2015 fiction round-up’

‘Reading Ben Lerner gives me the tingle at the base of my spine that happens whenever I encounter a writer of true originality. He is a courageous, immensely intelligent artist who panders to no one and yet is a delight to read. Anyone interested in serious contemporary literature should read Ben Lerner, and 10:04 is the perfect place to start’ Jeffrey Eugenides, author


‘Somewhere between the desperate unspooling sincerities of David Foster Wallace and the self-anatomising babble of Woody Allen... [10:04 is a] strange book... with a ruthless, twisty cleverness and originality that are difficult to ignore... We may need a new genre’ Tim Martin

‘The cleverest, funniest and most absorbing novel I read all year’ Edmund Gordon, Books of the Year

‘What you're left with is Lerner's undeniable talent. He is very clever and he can certainly mint a metaphor... but he is also a natural storyteller, winning you round to whatever new direction he has taken within a couple of sentences... I recommend that you give Lerner a whirl’ Theo Tait

‘Wonderfully intelligent, full of intricate formal devices, literary references and various hidden repositories of meaning... It is also a tentative, tender, and achingly uncertain story of man becoming a father’

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