Wolf in White Van | Granta

  • Published: 02/07/2015
  • ISBN: 9781783781102
  • 129x20mm
  • 224 pages

Wolf in White Van

John Darnielle

A terrible event leaves Sean Phillips disfigured when he is only seventeen. In the weeks following the incident he creates an adventure game he calls the ‘Trace Italian’, where players awake in an apocalyptic America and make their way to safety across an irradiated landscape, decision by difficult decision. The years pass and Sean lives a quiet life enriched by his games. But when a pair of teenage sweethearts try to seek the Trace in the real world their actions prove fatal, and Sean is forced to confront the dangers of his creation and its origins in his own troubled past.

A beguiling story of contingency, solitude and escape, Wolf in White Van is a heart-stopping debut from a musician and songwriter known for the transcendent power of his words.

Darnielle's prose is spare yet fervent, both distant and rawly exposed, making for an eerie, awkward and compelling novel that immediately demands a second read... as sad as it is beguiling


[Written in] intense, skewed and lyrical prose. The weirdly wonderful Wolf in White Van is melancholy, clever, obsessive

‘Debut of the Year

[An] arresting, enigmatic debut novel... a stunning meditation on the power of escape, and on the cat-and-mouse contest the self plays to deflect its own guilt

Ethan Gilsdorf, New York Times

The Author

John Darnielle is a writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats; he is widely considered one of the best lyricists of his generation. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and son.

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John Darnielle on Granta.com

Five Things Right Now | The Online Edition

Five Things Right Now: John Darnielle

John Darnielle

John Darnielle, author of the debut novel Wolf in White Van, shares five links of what he’s reading, watching and thinking about right now.