Greta & Valdin: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Greta & Valdin: A Novel By Rebecca K. Reilly Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Quite possibly my favorite book of the year. The audio narration is perfectly executed, which is no easy feat given the surprising breadth of accents this globally entangled Auckland-based family draws into their hearts--the readers voice with wry deprecation and warm embodied confusion the unforgettable titular queer millenial siblings at the heart of this hilarious, surprising, messy, and deeply moving novel of family and love. Reilly's relatable protagonists' chronic anxiety is delivered through humor and insight that comes from such a smart and specific character-based perspective--the ways Greta and Valdin not only speak but think and behave are so deeply because they are exactly who they are and come from the exact destabilized and fraught and loving cultures and experiences of their family members, and the humor works through their voice so well that you can't help but know and love them in their fallible, miserable, joyful reality--it's a masterclass in character work. Reilly is a genius of wielding specific detail to dramatic, insightful, and often deeply funny effect. This will join the few books I re-listen to, because the characters feel so real and their journeys are so messy and human and full of wildly off-kilter, deeply relatable choices, without the weight of tragic trauma that so often accompanies literary fiction about brown queer people. I love this book and I'll need it forever. Can't wait for everyone else to catch up.

— Gretchen

The wit is dry, the queers are messy, and the family is chaotic. This book, perhaps the funniest I've ever read, is full of big love and even bigger Feelings. Read it, read it, read it!!! — From Mira's big long ever-growing list of all-time favorites, fun ones, and highly recommended reads


A New York Times Editors’ Choice

For fans of Schitt’s Creek and Sally Rooney’s Normal People, an irresistible and bighearted international bestseller that follows a brother and sister as they navigate queerness, multiracial identity, and the dramas big and small of their entangled, unconventional family, all while flailing their way to love.

It’s been a year since his ex-boyfriend dumped him and moved from Auckland to Buenos Aires, and Valdin is doing fine. He has a good flat with his sister Greta, a good career where his colleagues only occasionally remind him that he is the sole Maaori person in the office, and a good friend who he only sleeps with when he’s sad. But when work sends him to Argentina and he’s thrown back in his former lover’s orbit, Valdin is forced to confront the feelings he’s been trying to ignore—and the future he wants.

Greta is not letting her painfully unrequited crush (or her possibly pointless master’s thesis, or her pathetic academic salary...) get her down. She would love to focus on the charming fellow grad student she meets at a party and her friendships with a circle of similarly floundering twenty-somethings, but her chaotic family life won’t stop intruding: her mother is keeping secrets, her nephew is having a gay crisis, and her brother has suddenly flown to South America without a word.

Sharp, hilarious, and with an undeniable emotional momentum that builds to an exuberant conclusion, Greta & Valdin careens us through the siblings’ misadventures and the messy dramas of their sprawling, eccentric Maaori-Russian-Catalonian family. An acclaimed bestseller in New Zealand, Greta & Valdin is fresh, joyful, and alive with the possibility of love in its many mystifying forms.

About the Author

Rebecca K Reilly (Ngaati Hine, Ngaati Rehua Ngaatiwai ki Aotea), born 1991, is a Maaori novelist from Waitaakere, New Zealand. She has a BA (hons) in German and European studies from the University of Auckland and an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington, where she won the Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing for 2019.

Praise For…

"Generous [and] tender. . . Reilly’s warm, overflowing novel defies categorization because its characters are too complex and multifaceted to be easily summed up. They’re too alive in their messiness. If this novel shows us anything, it’s that love—of family, of romantic partners, of community—is most joyful when it’s without limits." —The New York Times

"Say hello to your new favorite fictional family. In the wrong hands [Greta & Valdin] could all be quirk for quirk’s sake, or a half-baked hybrid of Schitt’s Creek and The Royal Tenenbaums. But Reilly’s humor is so riotously specific, and the many moments of true poignancy so gently infused with that same humor, that the Vladisavljevics seem like no one but themselves. [. . . ] If Reilly won’t give us a sequel, then we can at least hope she won't make us wait too long for her next novel. Kirkus Reviews (*starred*)

"The laughs start early and go strong throughout this winsome story." San Francisco Chronicle, "Most Anticipated Reads of 2024"

"Quintessential rom-com meets the delicious family sprawl of a Russian classic." —Vanity Fair, "11 Books to Read This Month"

"Within the first few pages of Greta & Valdin, I was already struggling not to laugh aloud in my crowded office. I wanted to tap my colleagues on the shoulders and read lines to them, in the hopes they, too, would cherish Rebecca K Reilly’s little kernels of humor and truth." Elle, "The Best (and Most Anticipated) Fiction Books of 2024, So Far"

"Reilly writes with a dry, sly humor and great love for her characters. She brilliantly builds the world of the siblings bit by bit, like a jigsaw puzzle. . . All combine not just to make the world feel real and lived in, but also to explain why Greta and Valdin are the way they are. . . Ultimately joyous and life-affirming, Greta & Valdin is Reilly’s first novel. This reviewer is eager to see what she does next." —BookPage

"Charming. . . This offbeat millennial comedy has universal appeal." —Publishers Weekly

"Yes, [Greta & Valdin has] all the trappings of a very modern romcom, but it’s the pair’s relationships with and places within their complex, sprawling, loving Russian-Maori-Catalonian family that is the beating heart of their story, and this novel is all the richer for that. A huge hit when it was published in New Zealand, fingers crossed its considerable charms chime with an international audience—such success very much deserves repeating." Marie Claire

"Reilly creates charming multicultural characters whose struggles feel at once modern and universal." —The Washington Post, "10 Noteworthy Books for February"

"In this cracking debut novel, Rebecca K. Reilly lets us look over the shoulders of siblings Greta and Valdin as they navigate the intricacies and disappointments of relationships, work, and family in their twenties. Written with a shrewd eye and a ruthless sense of humour, Reilly has barbs for everyone, including pretty much the entire city of Auckland. On a personal note, I was banned from reading this book at bedtime because of my excessive giggling."  —Electric Literature, "10 Must-Read Novels Set in Aotearoa New Zealand"

"A heartfelt portrait of a complex family." People Magazine, "Best Books to Read in February"

Greta & Valdin is hilarious, touching and hotly sublime. The kind of novel that simultaneously makes me wish I were funnier and absolves me from the need to try—I’ll never be as funny as Rebecca K Reilly (and that’s OK).” —Julia Armfield, author of Our Wives Under the Sea

"I can't remember the last time I read a book that was as genuinely and uniquely funny as Greta & Valdin. But it's also so much more than that. Reilly's voice is wise and full of life, and her observations about queer love, heartbreak, and the complexities of family are poignant without ever succumbing to sentimentality. This is a wholly original, laugh-until-you-ugly-cry-on-the-subway debut." —Grant Ginder, author of The People We Hate at the Wedding

"Hysterical, smart, and gay. I loved these characters so much. Greta & Valdin is an engrossing and charming read peppered with humour and insight. I can’t wait to read more from Rebecca K Reilly." —Emily Austin, author of Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead

"Greta & Valdin feels somehow totally new and beautifully familiar at the same time, like the kind of book you've been longing to read your whole life. Part comedy of manners, part family epic and all contained within a compulsive, charming clutch of pages we couldn't put down. Both ruthless and hilarious, offering hope and a wink for queer romantics everywhere." —Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta, authors of The View Was Exhausting

Product Details
ISBN: 9781668028049
ISBN-10: 1668028042
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English