Synopsis

Jeremy O'Keefe, a middle-aged Professor of History, returns to his native New York after a decade teaching at Oxford, hoping to reconnect with his daughter and rebuild the life he left behind. He settles into a rhythm of long evenings spent alone after a day teaching students he barely knows. Then a strange encounter with a young man who presumes an acquaintance he cannot remember and a series of disconcerting events leave him with a growing conviction that he is being watched. The pale young man keeps appearing, a haunting figure lingers outside his apartment at night, and mysterious packages begin to arrive. As his grip on reality seems to shift and turn, Jeremy struggles to know whether he can believe what he is experiencing, or whether his mind is in the grip of an irrational obsession. I Am No One explores the tenuous link between fear and paranoia in our post-Snowden lives: a world of surveillance and self-censorship, where privacy no longer exists and our freedoms are inexorably eroded.

Translations forthcoming in Germany (Blessing Verlag), Italy (Garzanti), and Spain (Galaxia Gutenberg), with other territories pending.

Purchase

Waterstones (UK)

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Advance Praise

"A tense, nervy, confident thriller for the surveillance age from a writer with an uncanny sense of the anxieties and fears that define the modern condition." —Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life

“In I Am No One, Patrick Flanery has laid bare the fear of our digital age. Part Mr. Robot, part Don DeLillo, part Edward Snowden—this thrilling, unnerving novel defies genre and raises trenchant questions about privacy, identity, and fate. I Am No One is a disquieting must-read, a book to start right after you delete your browsing history and change all of your passwords.” —Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Remember Me Like This

“A passionate, gripping, brilliantly voiced and scintillatingly intelligent novel about that cancer afflicting modern democratic states—the surveillance of its own people. ... I Am No One will get under your skin … and have you looking over your shoulder.” —Neel Mukherjee, author The Lives of Others

"Patrick Flanery writes a coolly urbane and intelligent prose that keeps its structure and poise from first page to last. It's a prose marvelously suited to its material." —Lawrence Osborne, author of The Ballad of a Small Player

“Patrick Flanery pulls off a rarity in the age of compartmentalized fiction: a novel of Pynchonesque paranoid ideas, wrapped in psychologically acute Jamesian prose, delivered by a gripping story worthy of Graham Greene. I Am No One is itself profoundly observant about the post-Snowden culture of surveillance, and the insights of this unsettling novel are ignored at our own peril.” —Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

What the Critics are Saying

“[A] brilliant commentary on pervasive government intrusion into the private lives of citizens. . . . This is an excellent portrayal of a good man manipulated by others, without ever understanding why.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Flanery is a master of puzzling, alarming and even terrifying storytelling. . . . One of the pleasures of reading [him] is the tussle between ways of understanding the shapes of stories and language. . . . [H]e writes realist novels which show their awareness that realism is a self-conscious form like others. Reviewers have described his novels as thrillers, which is never quite right . . . there are parts of the story that stand out as thrilling, next to other parts that are meditative, and others that are psychologically baffling. Readers are constantly seeking to work out what sort of writing they are reading.” —A.S. Byatt, The Guardian 

"Patrick Flanery’s I Am No One, a paranoid novel for the post-Snowden age …. shows us how we participate in the systems of surveillance that surround us. …. In a keen bit of social commentary, Flanery shows that the more we see of each other the less we actually know. The surveilled subject may be visible in many different ways, but remains completely invisible in many others. …. Flanery demands agility from his readers, but there’s a real pleasure in keeping up with his fast and omnivorous intellect. The book allows for a rare kind of readerly observation: we’re watching the writer while knowing that we, ourselves, are being watched." —Bryan Hurt, Los Angeles Review of Books

“seductive and frightening”, “Patrick Flanery's new novel I Am No One asks whether it is more delusional to think you are being watched, or to think you are not being watched. Conventionally a mark of mental illness, it has more recently come to mean you're just well informed. . . . This is . . . a novel with a point to make. . . . [b]ut Flanery resists the obvious at every turn. This is not a polemic—instead, emotional and psychological precision are the order of the day. . . . The nuance . . . comes from a quiet and subtle counter-melody of anxiety about the opposite of surveillance: being forgotten, being unknown, being ignored.” —Annalisa Quinn, NPR

“Patrick Flanery has produced . . . a remarkably effective novel in reaction to Edward Snowden’s revelations of privacy violations . . . . [I]ts relevance today is without question. . . . At every turn . . . the government is revealed as a most insensitive reader, obtusely literal in its interpretation of the text. Consequently, O’Keefe embraces his role as a narrator, laying out the most intimate details for all to see, as an act of protest. If we’re condemned to be interpreted by an illiterate state, he suggests, then we must tell our own stories with dignity and poise. Though we might prefer to remain ‘no one’, we must become protagonists.” —Michael LaPointe, TLS

“Coming hot on the heels of works by Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and Joshua Cohen, Flanery’s brilliantly sly and funny book updates Nabokov’s Cold War story of despotic power to the present-day ‘badly named’ War on Terror. . . . Today, following Edward Snowden’s revelations of global surveillance, the fear that we are watched is no longer the province of isolated fantasists but a new fact of everyday life to which we all must adjust . . . . [U]nlike some of his more pessimistic contemporaries, Flanery finds resources in the novel—itself a kind of glass house, at once open and scrutinising—which can help us face this new reality.” “I Am No One . . . follows no predetermined rules, and culminates with a final Joycean flourish . . . the word ‘yes’, confirming the openness of the novel and its opposition to all closed systems.” —Kate Webb, The Spectator

“Patrick Flanery is . . . a refreshingly astute observer of ideas of nationhood, exile, censorship and surveillance. . . . In I Am No One . . . . passages read at times like an attractive crossbreed of Brideshead Revisited and Javier Marias’s All Souls . . . . It raises the enticing question of where Flanery’s bold imagination will choose to transport us . . . next.” —Jonathan Lee, New York Times Book Review

“The presumption of innocence relies on privacy: Look closely enough and everyone is guilty of something. Jeremy O’Keefe, the narrator of Patrick Flanery’s tense and atmospheric literary thrillerunderstands this all too well. . . . [A] cautionary tale about a sympathetic everyman snared in the net of global surveillance, I Am No One is deft and trenchant, a pertinent investigation of ‘the ways this nation has contorted its gaze back on itself.’” —Wall Street Journal

 "unnerving ... a timely response to ... recent findings about the U.S. and British governments’ pervasive use of surveillance in the name of national security .... the novel ensnares us in its noir-like web of anxiety. The cri de guerre in I Am No One becomes ours: 'I am not a criminal and still I demand privacy. I demand the right to be left alone, to be forgotten, to be a nonentity.' " —Irina Reyn, San Francisco Chronicle.

“[A] worthy addition to the growing shelf on the erosion of personal privacy in the service of public security.” —Kirkus Review

“Hardly the first novel to tackle the paranoia of a regular guy caught in the snares of an omnipresent, prying state, Patrick Flanery's I Am No One is the most up-to-date. . . .  I Am No One leads us into the labyrinth of surveillance we have come to accept. An ordinary man with no particular national, institutional or personal axes to grind, Jeremy tells his story with the frank innocence of someone who just wants ‘to be left alone, to be forgotten, to be a nonentity.’ Flanery's finely crafted novel suggests that this kind of privacy is from a time now gone. It's hard to be ‘no one’ today. . . . Flanery's impressive novel of paranoia and surveillance is a neo-thriller falling somewhere between Kafka's The Trial and Auster’s New York Trilogy.” —Shelf Awareness 

I Am No One reads like a collaboration between spy novelist John le Carre and Franz Kafka, the early 20th-century master of alienation and existential anxiety. It's at once a beautifully written slow-motion thriller, an unnerving story of fear and paranoia, and a cautionary tale about the perils of spy satellites, security cameras and electronic surveillance by faceless government bureaucrats.” —Bruce DeSilva, Associated Press

“exquisitely written, sinuously plotted and deliciously creepy . . . . Flanery’s self-assured I Am No One may do for the 21st century what Franz Kafka’s The Trial did for the 20th.” —Rayyan Al-Shawaf, Toronto Star

“Patrick Flanery’s topical, multi-layered novel probes the ubiquitous culture of surveillance today and its potential ramifications for a democratic society…. A masterful plot, a terrifying subject, and a gripping read . . . . It is clear where Flanery’s sympathies lie—in the words of one character: ‘A country without privacy is a country without freedom.’” —Lucy Popescu, The Independent on Sunday

“superb . . . . I Am No One is a tremendous work of fiction.” “Flanery is excellent at capturing the essence of culture shock and deracination; how the quirks and tics of nationality mark you out as different in foreign climes, make people wary, make you feel you’re walking slightly out-of-step, no matter how hard you try to keep the collective metre . . . . Its long, elegant sentences and intellectual inquisitiveness are reminiscent at times of Philip Roth, at others of European masters like Alberto Moravia or Arthur Koestler . . . . There are shades of classic spy-stories, too: think Le Carré’s gloomy contemplations . . . . But it stands alone… as a brilliant novel that works equally as . . . cautionary warning, socio-political j’accuse and—most rewardingly for me—existential meditation.” —Darragh McManus, Independent (Ireland)

“Flanery is an American writer domiciled in London . . . and . . .  the author of two other thoughtful, meticulously written and slow burning thrillers, most recently Fallen Land. . . . The present novel politicises what in Fallen Land was a more nebulous and personal sense of paranoia, producing a story that is a warning of the dangers of mass surveillance, but also a meditation on the frailty of individual identity when it is shaken by personal and social breakdown, and by the dislocation of expatriate life.” —Gerard Woodward, The Independent

“once again, Flanery ably demonstrates that fiction can be simultaneously electrifying and thought-provoking . . . . Flanery’s riffs on madness have bite and wit (sanity is an enclave within the larger realm of insanity, ‘a Vatican or San Marino of the mind’), and his meditations on observation, data collection and protection contribute new insight and convey fresh chills . . . . this account, whether of innocence or not, makes richly compelling reading.” —Malcolm Forbes, The National

“It is impossible to read Flanery’s novel without constantly looking over your shoulder—if you can tear yourself away from the page, that is. This is such a superb, addictive, startling read that it seeps into your psyche. Read I Am No One and look around you with trepidation at our post-Edward Snowden world.” —Jackie McGlone, The Herald (Scotland)

“A smart, chilling novel on just who’s watching who in a modern America riven with fear . . . . Flanery isn’t so much interested in the politics of counter-terrorism as in the politics of identity and the challenges of constructing a reliable sense of self when our lives don’t fit straightforward ethnic or emotional categories.” —Claire Allfree, Metro

“Patrick Flanery’s blistering new novel is set in the post-Snowden era of surveillance of ordinary citizens. He explores how a world without privacy is a world without freedom of expression . . . . This is a mesmerizing novel about memory, privacy, fear, and what happens when our past catches up with us . . . . a provocative page-turner . . .” —Farhana Gani, Reader’s Digest

I Am No One . . . is a strange beast. And I don’t use the term lightly—from the beginning it circles and prowls like a tiger, unnerving and bewitching at the same time . . . . a rewarding read.” —Jane Graham, The Big Issue

“disquieting . . . . compelling” —Lucy Daniel, The Daily Telegraph