Victim: A Novel (Hardcover)

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MOST ANTICIPATED: WASHINGTON POST, TIME, & MORE • A BBC BEST BOOK OF 2024 • There’s a fine line between bending the truth and telling bold-faced lies, and Javier Perez is willing to cross it. Victim is a fearless satire about a hustler from the Bronx who sees through the veneer of diversity initiatives and decides to cash in on the odd currency of identity.

"A crowning achievement." —New York Times Book Review  "You will burn through Victim and find your hands scalded when you are done…Pitch perfect." —Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming


Javier Perez is a hustler from a family of hustlers. He learns from an early age how to play the game to his own advantage, how his background—murdered drug dealer dad, single cash-strapped mom, best friend serving time for gang activity—can be a key to doors he didn’t even know existed. This kind of story, molded in the right way, is just what college admissions committees are looking for, and a full academic scholarship to a prestigious university brings Javi one step closer to his dream of becoming a famous writer.

As a college student, Javi embellishes his life story until there’s not even a kernel of truth left. The only real connection to his past is the occasional letter he trades with his childhood best friend, Gio, who doesn’t seem to care about Javi’s newfound awareness of white privilege or the school-to-prison pipeline. Soon after Javi graduates, a viral essay transforms him from a writer on the rise to a journalist at a legendary magazine where the editors applaud his “unique perspective.” But Gio more than anyone knows who Javi really is, and sees through his game. Once Gio’s released from prison and Javi offers to cut him in on the deal, will he play along with Javi’s charade, or will it all come crumbling down?

A satirical sendup of tear-jerking trauma plots with a tender portrait of friendship at its core, Victim asks what real diversity looks like and how far one man is willing to go to make his story hit the right notes.

About the Author


ANDREW BORYGA grew up in the Bronx and now lives in Miami with his family. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic, and been awarded prizes by Cornell University, The University of Miami, The Susquehanna Review, and The Michener Foundation. He attended the Tin House Writer’s Workshop and has taught writing to college students, elementary school students, and incarcerated adults. Victim is his debut novel.

Praise For…


A New York Times Editor's Choice An NPR and BBC Best Book of 2024 • A Washington Post, TIME, USA Today, Real Simple, Nylon, Lit Hub, She Reads, and Debutiful Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"[An] energetic and deeply satisfying debut novel...Boryga is having fun, and he’s inviting us to join in. But let’s be clear: Though Boryga is playing, he’s not playing around...His debut signals the arrival of a writer courageous enough to dive into the difficult head-on. A thrilling work."
Mateo Askaripour, New York Times Book Review

“Blazingly trenchant, unflinchingly Bronx, Boryga's the rare writer who knows sometimes it's in the unlearning where real education begins. Victim diddy-bops into your skull; smooth, cool, fun-loving and knowing full well a sense of humor always trumps one's sense of entitlement. Break night with this one—it isn't to be missed.”
Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout

“You will burn through Victim and find your hands scalded when you are done. It’s not just because of the tight, engaging prose and pitch perfect voice of our narrator, Javier—but because no one is innocent in this stinging satire that turns everything about meritocracy and success on its head. Boryga pulls no punches, and leaves you alternating rolling with laughter and cringing as a result.”
Xochitl Gonzalez, New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming

"You get debuts this blazing once in a generation if you’re lucky. Boryga is brilliant, a brilliant writer, a brilliant satirist and his voice could light up a city. Victim is a stake of truth aimed at our vampire culture’s charlatanic heart."
Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"Andrew Boryga dismantles with audacious precision the lies upholding certain lives and the lethal undertow of truth. Blazing with insight, Victim is part social commentary and part requiem for the values of our time. This is a simply stellar debut."
Patricia Engel, author of Infinite Country

Victim is an original, biting satire about the contradictions of class and race in America. This a deep dive into identity cynicism that somehow never loses its heart. Brave, unflinching as it is insightful, Victim launches Andrew Boryga as a new literary star.”
Mat Johnson, author of Invisible Things and Pym

"A strivers’ tale for the digital age and our identity-obsessed culture, Victim had me laughing out loud with its depiction of what can happen when clout-chasing goes wrong. Javier's media misadventures are hilarious, yes, and breathless in pace, and yet still will leave you pondering big questions past the last page, about the complexity of our stories and the dangers of flattening them. A fantastic, fresh addition to the canon of satire."
Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

"Victim is going to hurt some people's feelings. But that's exactly what smart, insightful social satire is meant to do. Andrew Boryga's dazzling debut novel is the story of a hustler whose game is to benefit from the struggles of other people. He's an identity politics confidence man. And yet he's also someone you come to care about, and worry for, as the stakes of his hustle grow and grow. This is a fearless and ambitious debut."
 —Victor LaValle, author of Lone Women

"Boryga is a preternaturally gifted new voice for the aftertimes. Victim is a dazzling, triumphant debut that acerbically unpacks hard truths behind this post-truth era in which social media, personal branding, and the wants of others distort the lenses through which we see ourselves. And eventually distort the lens through which we see the world. An absolute scream of a debut novel. It lands like a comet of truthraw, brilliant, unstoppable."
—Daniel Peña
, author of Bang

Victim sizzles like Tito Puente on timbales.”
Ernesto Quiñonez, author of Bodega Dreams

"Victim is bold, unforgettable, and wickedly funny. Andrew Boryga has written a pitch-perfect Stephen Glass cautionary tale for the 21st century and a scathing satire of the commodification of identity and experience in the attention economy. I absolutely loved it."
Leigh Stein, author of Self Care

"A pointed satire of the culture of victimhood... Boryga’s experiences as a journalist making a name for himself just as society was grappling with diversity inform this razor-sharp satire of the ways race and class can be exploited."
—Washington Post

"Victim pushes the bounds of what true diversity looks like.” 
—USA Today

"Lying is kind of funny. The stress of someone jumping through increasingly wild hoops to avoid getting caught in a lie is hilarious. Victim is about Javi, a writer from a marginalized community, who fudges his way into the kinds of rooms where people say “marginalized” and “community” a lot. The book is a charming critique of the publishing industry and its surface-level attempts at righting societal ills (which, kind of bold for a debut author), while also staying empathetic towards the well-meaning individuals who give Javi a shot."
NPR

"This scathing satire shows the lengths one is willing to go to earn recognition in the attention economy."
—TIME

"A sharp and biting satire about the truths and lies we can hide behind in the digital age. The voice of the narration is wickedly perfect and propels this novel with ease. Boryga understands tone, pace, and voice better than most."
Debutiful

“A satire of wokeness. . . Really funny. . . If you’re looking for a slightly cerebral, elevated beach read, I would recommend it.”
—WIRED

"Victim is one of those rare outliers that manages to engage with the cliched polemic without getting trapped into it… A buoyant read… [Boryga’s] raw, vivid, and affectionate depiction of city life is refreshingly unpretentious and down-to-earth… his novel is more an examination of the human condition than a polemic, giving ample space to grey areas, and sincerely exploring profound and universal questions about morality and responsibility, fate and free will, social structures and the role we play in them as individuals."
The Critic Magazine

"Come for the diversity-media-bashing, stay for the actual diversity... Boryga’s novel is quick-paced and tightly crafted, a hybrid that’s both a fun-to-read entry in the how-to-make-it-in-Gotham genre and a serious engagement with cultural theory."
Compact Magazine

Victim highlights the hazards and moral dilemma of telling a truth that is not your own. . . Boryga’s character development is exceptional. He draws the reader into Javi’s psyche, experiencing his constant rationalizations, the fear of being caught, and the occasional pangs of guilt. The supporting characters are complex and nuanced. . . Victim is a compelling work with a flawed protagonist, a realistic storyline, and strong dramatic tension. Victim raises important questions about the choices we make and the price we pay for success. It shows us how we are all a combination of our authentic selves, the misimpressions of others, and, sometimes, the occasional fabrications we invent for the sake of being valued.”
—The Southern Review of Books


"[A] nonstop caricature of racial discourse. . . We laugh, until Boryga catches us red-handed in our own laughably paltry attempts at racial justice. . . And in case we look away, Boryga gazes at us directly in quiet, lucid beats. . . [Victim] critically embod[ies] the cannibalistic state of the identity narrative. . . The very conceit of Victim may be [the] pendulum-like trap between the political and personal: and how difficult it is for marginalized people to value one without sacrificing – or being denounced by – the other. With such unresolvable loops and ironies, Victim shrewdly reflects our era of superficial diversity discourse and how we cannibalize minoritized stories."
—Harvard Advocate

"Victim is the rare novel that’s both vital political commentary and unputdownable beach read…Victim dramatizes a question that many have asked but few dare articulate: Does White liberal elites’ commodification of diversity and hardship encourage minorities to frame our lives, and art, to pander to their tastes?”
—Hyperallergic

"Scathing... Victim is Andrew Boryga’s audacious, decidedly original debut novel, a satire that at once is guaranteed to both entertain and frighten... Andrew Boryga has created as reckless and as bold a character as we are likely to find in a contemporary novel."
—The Anniston Star Review

"The satire in this novel comes in sharp and merciless, but the friendship at the story’s center steals the show, rounding out all the complexities and contradictions of two young men on different sides of the truth. Boryga is a keen observer of culture and a storyteller with style to spare."
—CrimeReads

"A cutting satire along the lines of Black Buck and Yellowface. . . Funny and heart-squeezing."
—BookRiot

“In the vein of satires such as Percival Everett’s glorious Erasure, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and Mithu Sanyal’s Identitti. . . Superbly written, this is a darkly funny, searing exposé of the contemporary appetite for trauma narratives and the ill-informed responses of many institutions to issues of racial justice.”
Booklist

"Part blistering satire, part earnest bildungsroman [in this] canny debut. . . Boryga plays his dynamic central duo against each other to striking effect. This foray into the uses and misuses of victimhood bears fruit."
—Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385549974
ISBN-10: 0385549970
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: March 12th, 2024
Pages: 288
Language: English