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An intimate, suspenseful, and provocative portrait of friendship and love at its limits—“splendid,” says Publishers Weekly, “effortless and sharply perceptive . . . a consistently engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable novel”

When Eli first meets Sam Westergard, he is dazzled by his new friend's charisma, energy, and determined passion. Both graduate students in New York City, the two young men bond over their idealism, their love of poetry, and their commitment to socialism, both in theory and in practice—this last taking the form of an organized protest against Soline, a giant energy company that has speculated away the jobs and savings of thousands. As an Occupy-like group begins to coalesce around him, Eli realizes that some of his fellow intellectuals are more deeply—and dangerously—devoted to the cause than others. 

A fiercely intelligent, wonderfully human illustration of friendship, empathy, and suspicion in the midst of political upheaval, Ryan McIlvain's new novel confirms him as one of the most talented and distinctive writers at work today.

Praise for The Radicals

“A rollicking literary thriller . . . . Rapturous.” Vanity Fair

“In McIlvain’s splendid second novel . . . the blissful rootlessness of narrator Eli, a 28-year-old graduate student, makes the novel a kind of adventure story of friendship and betrayal, in the same vein as On the Road. . . . McIlvain’s prose is effortless and sharply perceptive; this is a consistently engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable novel.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Hauntingly depicts the devastation that results from according ideology precedence over human life. . . . McIlvain’s rich prose captures the polychromatic splendor of nature.” Minneapolis Star Tribune

“McIlvain’s exploration of the world of protesters will resound with readers interested in the personal side of dissent. McIlvain offers far more than political commentary, though, as he explores friendship, loyalty, and betrayal in a tale driven by tension and suspense.” Booklist (starred review)

“McIlvain is a consummate crafter of words. Each word of his prose carries real weight . . .” Medium

“It may be fictional, but the world in The Radicals deftly mirrors ours, with political upheaval, corporate excess and suspicious, frustrated citizens.” Tampa Bay Times

“What a splendid novel, brilliantly combining a compelling personal story with important ripped-from-the-zeitgeist social and political issues. The Radicals has instantly claimed a place for Ryan McIlvain on my short list of writers I will forever watch very closely.” —Robert Olen Butler, Pultizer Prize–winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain and Perfume River

“Among his many talents, Ryan McIlvain has a special gift for getting at the seductions and dangers of naiveté, and The Radicals delivers. Suffused with bittersweet wistfulness for a better world, this novel offers an urgent warning about the hazards that lie beneath even the best of intentions.” —Maggie Shipstead, New York Times–bestselling author of Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me

“The author of Elders (2013) serves up another story of true belief and its discontents, this time set in the time of failing banks, rising inequality, and the Occupy movement. . . . Memorable. . . . A welcome return that will leave readers looking forward to future work from McIlvain.” Kirkus Reviews