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The Word Exchange

A Novel

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Hardcover published by Doubleday (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book

A fiendishly clever dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange is a fresh, stylized, and decidedly original debut about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word.
 
In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted "death of print" has become a near reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are  essentially things of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but have become so intuitive as to hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of our stomachs, change traffic lights and interface with home appliances—even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
 
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used e-mail (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving behind a written clue: ALICE. It's a code word he and Anana devised to signal if one of them ever fell into harm's way. And thus begins Anana's journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . .
 
Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague (who is secretly in love with her), Anana's search for Doug will take her into dark basement incinerator rooms, underground passages, the stacks and reading rooms of the Mercantile Library, secret meetings of the anonymous "Diachronic Society," the boardrooms of the evil online retailing site Synchronic, and ultimately the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary—the spiritual home of the written word. As Ana peices together what is going on, and Bart gets sicker and sicker with a strange "word flu" that has spread worldwide, causing more and more people to speak in gibberish and succumb to aphasia, Alena Graedon crafts a fresh, cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a thoughtful meditation on the price of technology and the unforeseen, though very real, dangers of the digital age.

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A fiendishly clever dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange is a fresh, stylized, and decidedly original debut about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word.
 
In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted "death of print" has become a near reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are  essentially things of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but have become so intuitive as to hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of our stomachs, change traffic lights and interface with home appliances—even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
 
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used e-mail (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving behind a written clue: ALICE. It's a code word he and Anana devised to signal if one of them ever fell into harm's way. And thus begins Anana's journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . .
 
Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague (who is secretly in love with her), Anana's search for Doug will take her into dark basement incinerator rooms, underground passages, the stacks and reading rooms of the Mercantile Library, secret meetings of the anonymous "Diachronic Society," the boardrooms of the evil online retailing site Synchronic, and ultimately the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary—the spiritual home of the written word. As Ana peices together what is going on, and Bart gets sicker and sicker with a strange "word flu" that has spread worldwide, causing more and more people to speak in gibberish and succumb to aphasia, Alena Graedon crafts a fresh, cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a thoughtful meditation on the price of technology and the unforeseen, though very real, dangers of the digital age.

Product Details
Hardcover (384 pages)
Published: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Doubleday
ISBN: 9780385537650
Other books byAlena Graedon
  • The Word Exchange

    The Word Exchange
    A dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange offers an inventive, suspenseful, and decidedly original vision of the dangers of technology and of the enduring power of the printed word.   In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are things of the past, and we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but also have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.      Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . .      Joined by Bart, her bookish NADEL colleague, Anana’s search for Doug will take her into dark  basements and subterranean passageways; the stacks and reading rooms of the Mercantile Library; and secret meetings of the underground resistance, the Diachronic Society. As Anana penetrates the mystery of her father’s disappearance and a pandemic of decaying language called “word flu” spreads, The Word Exchange becomes a cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a meditation on the high cultural costs of digital technology. From the Hardcover edition.

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