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Book cover for Dave King's novel, The Ha-Ha

"The verdict: A subtly remarkable voice ...Unique and compelling….stirring.... poignant...King does a convincing job of bringing readers into the melancholy sadness and joyful triumphs of Howard's small, silent world."
–S. Kirk Walsh,
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Lovingly rendered in careful, steady prose. Like Michael Cunningham’s A Home at the End of the World, the novel explores familial bonds arising between people with no blood ties….Poise and heart."
Publishers Weekly

"A solid, deeply felt debut novel…What The Ha-Ha does have in abundance, however, are the qualities that make any novel worth reading: vivid, nuanced characters, a deeply textured story and a highly compelling plot. Oh, and there’s more: The writing is excellent…Written with such layered gracefulness….bright gem of a novel….King has succeeded beautifully….The quality of his prose and the care King has taken with his characters and their story make The Ha-Ha a treat well worth savoring. No hooks required."
–Debra Ginsberg,
San Diego Union-Tribune

"Ambitious and original….King’s painstaking story tugs at the heart.  Howard is an exasperating creation who gives the impression that even if he were able to speak, he would still have trouble communicating….It could not have been easy for King—who in his first book climbs out on a precarious limb to write about drug abuse, war and life as a damaged man—to fashion a character as diffident toward existence as Howard, and so ponderously, with nearly as many steps backward as forward, to return him to life."
–Ian Schwartz,

"King has a gift for the kind of easy dialogue that feels like a game of catch, the very thing Howie can’t participate in, and his details ring true."
New Yorker

"Beautifully written….King manages the true grace of his work, allowing the story’s final chapters to finish with both heartbreak and hope. One marvel of the book is how King manages to pull off Howard’s extraordinary transformation with such low-key prose and in such a short time span.  A bigger marvel, however, is that we buy into Howard’s narrative at all: how can a man without speech speak for 350 pages? But buy into it we do, in much the same way that we suspend disbelief for the dead storyteller in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones or the Tourette’s syndrome-afflicted narrator in Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn.  We believe it because the act of reading is itself transcendent, well beyond staring at words on a page.  When literature raises us to the higher levels of that transcendence, we have almost a duty to believe—and practical considerations be damned.  While The Ha-Ha is a novel of many things—family, friendship, disability, desire—it is mostly a novel of learning to live, of truth and beauty, carrying within it the pain and ugliness those words entail, as well as their more optimistic tones of light and love. King has achieved something important with his first novel: he has given voice to the voiceless."
–Pablo Tanguay,
Nashville Scene

"Dave King’s The Ha-Ha is the rare first novel that seems to have no literary precedent….King’s book is alternately heartbreaking and redemptive.  The character of Howard Kapostash is comparable to Yann Martel’s Pi Patel (Life of Pi) or Goto Dengo in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon as a character with no literary forebears."
–Regis Behe,
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"Literature is rich with unforgettable narrators—Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield, The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway, White Noise’s Jack Gladney— but none quite so unique as Howard Kapostash in Dave King’s debut novel, The Ha-Ha…a novel brimming over with wizened compassion, hard-won humor, and full-blooded tenderness….Haunting, hilarious, and human."
–J. Rentilly,

"Howard Kapostash is the addled, tortured and altogether winning hero of Dave King’s probing novel, a saga of the American self that addresses the shape of modern family life, the lingering wounds of the Vietnam War and one man’s efforts to cope with permanent damage to his left temporal lobe….As ornate as Howard’s dysfunction is, in the end, he is, to King’s great credit, bracingly like all of us."

–Mark Rozzo,
Los Angeles Times

"Wonderful…the novel has so much heart that it feels brand new."

–Nan Goldberg,
Newark Star-Ledger

–Kevin Sintumuang,

"A beautifully crafted ode to the difficulties of language and love."

–Mark Liebermann,

"Subtlety and grace."
Baltimore Sun

"The rich texture of the novel comes in large part through Howie; he’s a difficult character—stubborn and moody, kind and gentle, earthy and angry—and so he doesn’t fit into any easy mold.  His oafish clowning around and misguided desire for Sylvia bump up against gorgeous moments of understanding….The ha-ha is the literal place where Howie experiences rebellion, damnation, shame and salvation. It is also the exclamation and experience readers may have when realizing how deeply Howie Kapostash and his story have affected them."

–Erin Ergenbright,
Portland Oregonian


–Jim Coan,
Library Journal (starred review)


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