Liam is the boy, lying in the hospital, in grave condition, a bullet lodged in his head. Otto is his father, a commercial artist whose marriage has collapsed in the wake of the disaster. Paul Griner’s brave novel taps directly into the vein of a uniquely American tragedy: the school shooting. We know these grotesque and sorrowful events too well. Thankfully, the characters in this drama are finely drawn human beings—those who gain our empathy, those who commit the unspeakable acts, and those conspiracy fanatics who launch a concerted campaign to convince the world that the shooting was a hoax. The Book of Otto and Liam is a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat read and, at the same time, it is a meditation on the forms evil can take, from the irredeemable act of the shooter himself, to the anger and devastation it causes in the victims’ families. Griner has managed to make an amazing, incredibly powerful book, one that is like no other.
Booklist, "Best New Books: Week of April 13, 2021"
"Griner’s novel is a powerful excavation into the darkest recesses of grief. . . . Unabashedly polemical, angry, and heartbreaking."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Griner creates an entirely original portrait of grief, loss, and finding a new way forward in the aftermath of an all too-familiar tragedy."
—ALA Booklist, starred review
"In his heartwrenching novel The Book of Otto and Liam, Paul Griner traces the hard-fought healing of a school shooting victim’s father."
—Foreword Reviews, online and print
"Paul Griner’s fourth novel, The Book of Otto and Liam, amalgamates artifacts and narrative to not only tell the tragic story of a father reeling from a school shooting that leaves his son in the hospital, but also to examine the conspiracy theories and hoaxes that pervade American society. It’s a novel built on short chapters and precise emotional swings. Griner’s prose is swift and holds steady in the most difficult moments. I frequently found myself pausing to reread and process these short bursts, but finished The Book of Otto and Liam in one sitting."
—“'Art Can do What The Truth Can’t': 'The Book of Otto and Liam' Tackles Today’s Most Difficult Topics" by Aram Mrjoian, Chicago Review of Books
"Every so often a writer whose work you’ve admired makes a sudden leap into new and fertile territory. This is the case with Paul Griner’s dazzling new novel, The Book of Otto and Liam. Fast, timely, structurally daring, deeply humane, it is also wildly entertaining, in the best sense of the word: it drives the reader through it by virtue of her natural human feeling of concern. It has something important to teach us about our dangerous national addictions to violence, hostile projection, and political polarization and does so in that classic literary way: by making us care deeply about individual human beings."
—George Saunders, winner of the Man Booker Prize for Lincoln in the Bardo
"The Book of Otto and Liam is a serious and urgent book, with the power to appall, outrage, thrill and make a reader mourn; it is also a very funny book. . . . Griner gives us a story that is at once bursting with life and hollowed out by death, that celebrates our humanity and knows all our dirty secrets. The Book of Otto and Liam is a portrait of us in our present moment, battered by a reckless and deceitful government, battling our own inurement to daily horrors, and doing our best to get on with the business of living."
—"Haunted by Hoax: Paul Griner's The Book of Otto and Liam" by Josh English, The Rumpus