The life and nuclear-weapons work of renowned physicist Adam Brooks form the center of an orbit that binds his family to him as he struggles to find his place in science, history, and love. In this debut novel, searingly brilliant characters fill a world at once fascinating and familiar in its humanity, empathy, and humor.
But even more than a revelation of the lives of its characters, Lost, Almost is a meditation on brilliance and on the cost it exacts from those who possess it and those who live adjacent to its light. Told from the perspectives of Adam Brooks’ loved ones and acquaintances, interspersed with reflections in his own perspective, Lost, Almost gives us a clear and shimmering view of the magnetic pull of genius and the ways it repels the human connection we require to survive and thrive.
Winner of the Engine Books Fiction Prize, judged by Rebecca Makkai.
“Through spare and precise language, Knight’s debut novel follows three generations of the Brooks family as they are both nurtured and impeded by their physicist patriarch…Knight avoids easy conclusions and balances this intergenerational story with levity, honesty, and just the right measure of heartbreak.” —Publishers Weekly
“A memorable exploration of the consequences of history on both a personal and an intellectual level.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lost, Almost takes us into a magnetic world, one where characters orbit not just Los Alamos and the sciences, but also the appealingly hard-nosed physicist Adam Brooks. His son, his grandchildren, and his colleagues all live within his gravitational pull. These characters’ passion for their work becomes the reader’s, and Amy P. Knight paints her brilliant subjects with confidence, empathy, and a deep understanding of psychology. Knight has managed to build a small solar system in these pages, one I was bereft to leave. Hers is a bold, enthralling, and often hilarious new voice.”
—Rebecca Makkai, author of MUSIC FOR WARTIME
“In her incendiary debut novel, Amy P. Knight gives us a glimpse into the lives of those who ‘need to be right more than anything, more than air, more than love,’ and of those who would rather win than be right. No mere cautionary tale, this story is a haunting meditation on the hazards of genius and the dangers of any society ‘long on intellect [and] short on empathy.’ Except that empathy, dear reader, is all you’ll have for these characters, even for Adam Brooks, the book’s hero. I say hero, but Brooks is also a villain, a father, a tyrant, a child. Brooks, and all the rest, resist comfortable categorization. No, this book is too complicated, and too good, for that. Lost, Almost is a staggering achievement.” – David James Poissant, author of THE HEAVEN OF ANIMALS
"Like a mad scientist in the lab of human insight, Amy P. Knight has created a beautiful novel of nuclear proportion. Hers is an exploration of creation and destruction, passion and compulsion, brilliance and cruelty. If nothing else, the absorbing experiment that is Lost, Almost teaches us once again that the most important element in science was then, is now, and ever shall be, love and belonging to family and the human race. It is a perfect reminder for this era of hapless leadership.” —MB Caschetta, author of MIRACLE GIRLS