About The Afterlives:
“Will we meet again? I believe we will, but as for proof I can only offer my story, nothing more.”
Jim Byrd died at age thirty-three. Technically. For a few minutes. Revived with no memory of any tunnels, lights, or angels, Jim has all but given up on the idea of an afterlife until the day he hears it—a ghostly voice on a staircase. As Jim works to unravel the mystery of the voice, he begins a new life with his wife Annie.
Fumbling for faith, searching for proof that we might outlast our bodies, the couple tangles with holograms, psychics, a machine that connects the living and the dead, and a physicist convinced the universe only 93% exists. Together, Jim and Annie confront the specter of loss that looms for anyone who dares to fall in love. Funny, fiercely original, and gracefully moving, The Afterlives is a portrait of a marriage, a story of overlapping histories, and a journey outside of time and space.
This story will haunt you. In a good way.
"In Thomas Pierce's warm and inventive debut novel, The Afterlives, reality is slippery, time is out of joint and profound disorientation is a feature of daily existence. In other words, pretty much how the world feels to a lot of us right now... Pierce is brilliant at painting an entire life -- encompassing passion, missed opportunities, tragedy -- in a few pages. He also isn't afraid to pose the biggest questions: How do we deal with loss? What are the limits and possibilities of love? What is the nature of time? In The Afterlives, Pierce has worked a similar magic, connecting us to fictional characters who seem, somehow, 100 percent real." --New York Times Book Review
"Pierce has a gift for probing the limits of the psychic realm to uncover the benevolence that manifests from metaphysical insight." --Library Journal, Starred Review
"[A] touching, thought-provoking debut novel... Part love story and part speculative sci-fi, it's a... meaningful look at marriage, technology and ghosts." --USA Today
"It is a hugely inventive and enjoyable journey into the unknown... For all its inventiveness, however, the book's beating heart is in its exploration of faith." --The Irish Times
"The Afterlives, in all its witty, existentially, provocative glory, does not disappoint." --Nylon.com
"Told with sharp humor and big questions, it will make you laugh while simultaneously urging you to think deeply about technology, loss, faith, and life." --Southern Living
"Pierce's measured, straightforward style does not overtly highlight the speculative-fiction elements, adding to their impact. Wildly imaginative and thought-provoking fun for fans of Dave Eggers and Gary Shteyngart."
"A bracingly intelligent, beautifully rendered meditation on ghosts, technology, marriage, and the afterlife. This is a remarkable novel."
--Emily St. John Mandel
"Thomas Pierce's fine new novel is often humorous, but Jim Byrd's search to find out what might lie beyond this life makes The Afterlives much more: a poignant inquiry into our human desire for permanence." --Ron Rash
"I was enchanted by [Pierce's] thoughtful ruminations and wry comments about church and spirituality. Intercalary chapters about the haunted house's original residents vibrate with ectoplastic energy." --The Washington Post
"Tackling life's biggest question is an ambitious goal for a first novel--but Thomas Pierce, one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 recipients, does it with aplomb. Set in the near future, The Afterlives is a mordantly funny and deeply human look at one man's quest to find out what happens after we die... [Pierce] displays a nimble sense of humor and wild creativity in The Afterlives... Maybe knowledge of life after death is a futile quest, but Pierce's intelligent debut proves there's still something to gain from pursuing it." --BookPage
"Like his previous book, the short story collection Hall of Small Mammals, it's richly imaginative, quirky but not twee, and the work of an author who's determined to find the surreal behind the ordinary... [A] deeply generous, compassionate book that asks its readers to open their hearts and treat one another with understanding, even as the world grows more complicated, and more unknowable, every day." --NPR
"Fascinating... [Pierce's] work has a quirky sensibility that recalls Lorrie Moore or George Saunders, an ability to bring the unquestionably weird into the path of daily life without ever seeming forced... A fluid, funny writer." --Financial Times
"[It] will both haunt you and make you laugh." --Garden & Gun
"Pierce's first novel is a free-spirited lark that questions how people live with the presence of death... The novel imagines a rare and significant clarity about the effects of death on the living." --Publishers Weekly
"Inventive, romantic, and unsettling, The Afterlives is a story of two people who take extraordinary measures to answer the Big Questions: What is the soul? Do we ever really die? Flabbergastingly original and sublimely satisfying." --Amity Gaige
"A quirky, hilarious, and heartrending journey to answer the question of what, if anything, happens when we transition from this life to the next." --Marie Claire