The Facades

The Facades

A Novel

  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781468308358
  • 272 Pages
  • Overlook Books
  • Adult


Along the streets of the once-great Midwestern city of Trude, the ornate old buildings lie in ruin. Shrouded in disappointment and nostalgia, Trude has become a place to “lose yourself,” as one tourist brochure puts it: a treacherous maze of convoluted shopping malls, barricaded libraries, and elitist assisted-living homes.
One night at Trude’s opera house, the theater’s most celebrated mezzo-soprano vanishes during rehearsal. When police come up empty-handed, the star’s husband, a disconsolate legal clerk named Sven Norberg, must take up the quest on his own. But to discover the secret of his wife’s disappearance, Norberg must descend into Trude’s underworld and confront the menacing and bizarre citizens of his hometown: rebellious librarians, shifty music critics, a cop called the Oracle, and the minister of an apocalyptic church who has recruited Norberg’s teenage son. Faced with the loss of everything he loves, Norberg follows his investigation to the heart of the city and through the buildings of a possibly insane modernist architect called Bernhard, whose elaborate vision will offer him an astonishing revelation.

Written with boundless intelligence and razor-sharp wit, THE FACADES is a comic andexistential mystery that unfolds at the urgent pace of a thriller.


“If there’s a cross between Wittgenstein and a beach read, this is it-and yes, it’s as fun and strange as that sounds.” —Book Riot

““This is a detective novel that owes as much to Haruki Murakami and Italo Calvino as to John D. MacDonald and James M. Cain … The Facades belongs to the same subgenre as Paul Auster’s New  York Trilogy, Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn.” — Jon Michaud,’s Page-Turner Blog

“Equal parts George Saunders, Raymond Chandler and Ludwig Wittgenstein…The Facades is an intelligent and beguiling book that shouldn’t be missed.”—Time Out New York

“Eric Lundgren’s eccentric, droll and immensely charming little novel, had me by its second page. [A] fond elegy for a certain uncongenial strain of high modernism.”—Salon

“Fascinating, painfully funny, darkly surrealistic, deeply allusive…The Facades is a fine first novel by a very promising young writer.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“[Lundgren] has created an evocative landscape for his characters to move through, and it’s one that resonates along with those characters’ dreams and delusions.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune  
“You simply have to read it. The Facades is unencumbered by vanity and the hollow flips and twists of the showoff. It is a beautifully written, honest, humble, and devastating novel. Read it.”—ArtVoice


“Lundgren incorporates thoughtful details unexpected word choices, and striking turns of phrase that linger with the reader long after the book has ended. He has a keen sense of the mental abstraction that accompanies loss and translates it to the page with devastating accuracy. Readers with discerning taste in fiction, especially fans of literary fiction laced with mystery, will love Lundgren’s debut.”–Booklist

“This debut novel defies genres while delivering humor and oddball characters…Like the best storytellers, Lundgren understands that his job is to ask questions, not answer them. This inventive novel defies genres: it will delight readers who enjoy clever wordplay, oddball characters, and a glimpse into a not-so-distant future.” —ForeWord Reviews

“Ratcheted onto the spine of an un-put-downable mystery and brimming with entertaining dialogue and unique, well-wrought characters, this is one of those rare books that corners every mood, every emotion, and throws them into the spotlight. Lundgren’s debut is a fierce, funny examination of loss, set against one of the most creative worlds in recent memory, and it’s not to be missed.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“There are few things in life I enjoy as much as reading the work of someone with a powerful and unique imagination. Eric Lundgren has written exactly the kind of book I hope to stumble on, to be seized by, to be astonished by, to marvel at. I can’t wait for his next, so I suspect I will re-read The Facades while I’m waiting.”—Arthur Phillips, author of The Tragedy of Arthur and Prague

The Facades will suck you in, and keep you reading. Eric Lundgren is a funny and perceptive and touching writer, and Sven Norberg’s quest, through his crumbling and Lynchian Midwestern city, to learn about his disappeared wife is a journey you will be thrilled to have taken.” —Charles Bock, author of the New York Times bestseller Beautiful Children

The Facades is a bewitching labyrinth of a book. Reminiscent of Nabokov at his most playful and Borges at his most stimulating, Lundgren has written a novel that is as entertaining as it is full of indispensable insight.”—Seth Fried, author of The Great Frustration

“Enter the world of The Facades at your own risk . . . in a seductive sleight-of-hand, Eric Lundgren is conjuring a whole world into motion behind your back, a world of sinister enchantment and misbegotten causes. The Facades challenges your sense of the world you think you know and live in. It is a dazzling invention.” –Kathryn Davis, author of Duplex and The Thin Place

“To borrow one of his many felicitous phrases, Eric Lundgren has found a language of maximum power, compression, and elegance, not to mention desiccated wit, in his elegy to the dying Midwest. Sven Norberg’s physical and philosophical search for his missing wife, conveyed through crystalline prose, is unexpectedly suspenseful and moving–part meditation on Wittgensteinian solitude, part hard-boiled detective story. Forget the diminutive label of debut; Lundgren writes like a veteran in his prime, and The Facades is simply one of the best novels I’ve read in years, period.”–Teddy Wayne, author of The Love Song of Jonny Valentine and Kapitoil 

The Facades is a throbbing heart-breaker, an old-fashioned page-turner, and a searing portrait of a fractured family. It’s also a mesmerizing tour through a landscape both grittily familiar and thrillingly strange, a literary sleuthing that brings to mind Kafka, Sebald, Dostoevsky, Calvino, Coetzee, Murakami and Auster. But this city—an uncanny, menacing and beautiful architecture of sorrow–belongs wholly to Eric Lundgren and his unearthly command of language. I expect that, a generation from now, Lundgrenesque will be a common adjective.”–Stefan Merrill Block, author of The Story of Forgetting and The Storm at the Door

“Lundgren has laden this novel with puzzling and strange imagery, and the prose is darkly and dryly funny. [A] realistically strange world, much more than the shape of any one plot or facade.” —Los Angles Review of Books

“Slim in length but intricate in architecture, Lundgren deposits readers into a world of loss and mourning. ..[T]he results are terrific.” —The Rumpus