The Devil in Silver.

Author:LaValle, Victor
Position:Book review

By Victor LaValle

Victor LaValle, a Guggenheim Fellowship winner, is the author of the short story collection Slapboxing with Jesus (1999) and the novels The Ecstatic (2002) and Big Machine (2009). In his latest novel, The Devil in Silver, he combines horror and satire to tackle the mental healthcare system.


THE STORY: A 6-foot-3, 270-pound Queens moving man and Metallica fan with a short temper, Pepper makes a terrible mistake the day he decides to beat up three undercover New York City cops. Rather than go through the hassle of taking him to the station, the officers deliver him to New Hyde mental hospital for a 72-hour hold. The hold turns into an involuntary admit; the three days' admit turns into weeks and weeks. Along the way Pepper encounters a wide array of characters--other patients with their various woes, the stressed-out staff, and a creature that just might be the Devil himself.

Spiegel & Grau. 432 pages. $27. ISBN: 9781400069866

Minneapolis Star Tribune ****

"This is a long book, and the attention LaValle pays to detail becomes a kind of political statement. ... As the book slowly coalesces toward a climax, LaValle splices in real news stories about abuses and decay within New York City's mental institutions, tales of woe that lend a ghoulish tint to Pepper's comical attempts to escape." JOHN FREEMAN

NY Times Book Review ****

"Like police departments, schools and a variety of other government services, New Hyde has the misfortune--an unforgivable one, in today's society--of not being designed to produce a profit. ... Indeed, LaValle's fellowship of the mistreated and the mentally ill is only a stand-in for a much larger slice of inconvenient America." JOE HILL

Washington Post ****

"The Devil in Silver, LaValle's newest offering, is another fearless exploration of America's heart of darkness, set within the most terrifying landscape of our time: the American health-care system. 'Kafkaesque' is a term...

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