The Zero and the One

A Novel


By Ryan Ruby

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A gothic twist on the classic tale of innocents abroad, The Zero and the One is a meditation on the seductions of friendship and the power of dangerous ideas that registers the dark, psychological suspense of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and the intellectual and philosophical intrigue of John Banville’s The Book of Evidence.

A shy, bookish scholarship student from a working-class family, Owen Whiting has high hopes of what awaits him at Oxford, only to find himself adrift and out of place among the university’s dim aristocrats and posh radicals. But his life takes a dramatic turn when he is assigned to the same philosophy tutorial as Zachary Foedern, a visiting student from New York City. Rich, brilliant, and charismatic, Zach takes Owen under his wing, introducing him to a world of experiences Owen has only ever read about.

From the quadrangles of Oxford to the seedy underbelly of Berlin, they practice what Zach preaches, daring each other to transgress the boundaries of convention and morality, until Zach proposes the greatest transgression of all: a suicide pact. But when Zach’s plans go horribly awry, Owen is left to pick up the pieces in the sleek lofts and dingy dives of lower Manhattan. Now he must navigate the treacherous boundary between illusion and reality if he wants to understand his friend and preserve a hold on his once bright future.


REPETITION.—If something happens once, it may as well have never happened at all. Unfortunately, nothing ever happens only once. Everything is repeated, even nothing.

A British Airways jet, high above the coast of New England. The captain has turned off the fasten seatbelt sign, but mine remains strapped tightly across my waist. My fingers clutch the armrests, knuckles white. The air hostess evens her trolley with our row and bestows a sympathetic elevation of her eyebrows on me as she clears minibottles, plastic cups, crumpled napkins off my tray table. The other passengers regard me with caution. When I stumbled back from the toilet, I found that the young mother in my row had exchanged places with her tow-headed, round-faced toddler, who now stares obliviously at the white fields outside the window, in order to provide him with a buffer zone in case I were to do something erratic. Perhaps I'd been mumbling to myself again: a dangerous perhaps.

I tried to apologise to her, to explain that I rarely drink so much, it's only on planes that… but no luck. She doesn't speak English.

It's true, flying terrifies me. I can count the number of times I've done it on one hand. Twice with my parents. Once with school. Most recently, to Berlin with Zach during the Easter holiday. None of which has remotely prepared me to endure this seven-hour trans-Atlantic torture. Nothing—not a book or an inflight movie or even three minibottles of whisky—helps me to relax. The least bit of turbulence, every unexpected dip in altitude, signals The Beginning of a Crash.

On the flight to Berlin, Zach noticed my anxiety and argued that this was precisely what was so interesting about air travel. It was to be regarded, he said, as an exercise in amor fati. As soon as you stepped through the doors, you were forced to resign yourself to the possibility that your conveyance will turn into your coffin. Your fate was no longer in your hands, no longer under your control. In fact life was always like this, but only in special circumstances were we made aware of it. If to philosophize was to prepare for death he could think of no better place to practice philosophy than on an airplane.

His words were no comfort to me then. They're even less of one now. The last thing I want to think about are preparations for death. And coffins. How does one transport a body across the ocean? On a ship? Down in the hold with the rest of the luggage? Maybe on every flight there's a coffin going somewhere. At this very moment my t-shirts and toiletries could be nestling up with the dead.

When it is time, the air hostess helps me firmly lock my tray table and return my seat to its upright position.

We're beginning our final descent into New York, she explains.

No Miss, I am tempted to reply. Not our final descent.

The customs officer is a candle stub of a man with a damp, fleshy face that seems to have melted from the dark hairline of his crew cut into the wide, unbuttoned collar of his uniform. He flips through every page of my mostly blank passport, looks from me to my photo and back again. The photo, I remember, was taken at a booth in the Galleries, three or four years ago, in the thick of my rather dubious battle with puberty, right after one of those visits to the hairdresser, which, because I no longer live with my parents, I am no longer obliged to make. I neutralise my expression and remove my glasses, as I had been instructed to do then, but it is only when my left eye, which has astigmatism, wanders toward my nose that the resemblance finally becomes clear to him. He asks me to confirm the information I had written on my declaration form.

Student. One week. 232 West 113th Street.

Business or pleasure?


The stamp falls with a dull, bureaucratic thump: Welcome to the United States.

I know what New York looks like from the establishing shots of countless films and television shows. But there the city is only as large as the screen you watch it on. A safe size. Contained. Manageable. Odourless. Two-dimensional. With clearly marked exit signs, if you're watching at the cinema. With a volume dial and an off button, if you're watching from the comfort of your living room.

These taxi windows offer no such protection. On the motorway, my driver slices through traffic, steering with one hand on the indicator and the other on the horn. When a removal van tries to pass us, he closes the distance at the last moment. The driver leans out the window of the van, his face red, spit flying from his mouth as he tries to shout over the siren of the ambulance behind us. Not one to allow an insult to go unanswered, my driver rolls down the passenger-side window, letting in the foul breath of late afternoon. I probably shouldn't have pushed my luck by getting off the plane.

Can you believe this shit! he bellows a few minutes later. He's been trying to engage me in conversation since he first pulled me from the middle of the taxi queue at the airport, not sensing from my mumbled one-word answers that I'd prefer to be left alone. Our eyes meet in the rearview mirror, which is wrapped in the black beads of a rosary; the silver crucifix dangling from the end bobs and sways as he speeds round a double-parked car.

Can I believe what, then?

What this world is coming to! It's been all over the radio this week. This brawd in Texas drowned her five kids in the tub.

I sigh with resignation and ask why a person would do such a thing.

Because she's crazy, that's why! Post-pardon depression or some shit. Said God told her to do it. God of all people! Now you tell me, boss—would God ever tell somebody to kill their own child?

If I'm not mistaken, I say, clearing my throat, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. And the Father himself offered up his only begotten son to—

What? What was that you said? he yells, although he's heard me perfectly well. The taxi screeches to a halt. This is your stop, buddy.

At the airport, I changed all the money I'll have to live on for the week. It was the first time I'd ever held dollars in my hand. Green-and-black pieces of paper, no-nonsense notes, dour expressions on the portraits of men called Grant, Jackson, Hamilton—presidents presumably. I take a Grant and a Hamilton from my wallet and press them through the square opening in the plastic screen that separates me from the driver. Plus tip, buddy, he says. I hand him another ten dollars.

He remains seated as I take my luggage out of the boot. As soon as he hears the door shut, he speeds off again, leaving me, I soon realise, far from the address I'd given him. Not an hour in New York and already I've been ripped off.

My hostel is located opposite a primary school in the middle of a short, derelict street in Harlem. I'd spent most of my savings on the flight and this one was the cheapest I could find at short notice. On my walk here, three different beggars asked for money in tones ranging from supplicant to menacing. I dropped the two quid I happened to have in my pocket, shrapnel from the carton of cigarettes I bought at the duty-free shop, into the outstretched cup of the one I passed as I turned onto 113th Street. I moved on, head down, hoping he wouldn't notice until I was well out of shouting range.

I ring the doorbell. Open the door. Approach the large desk in the lobby and say, My name is Owen Whiting, I have a reservation. At the other end of the room, an elderly couple is sitting on an exhausted brown couch, watching a game show on the telly. Another guest is typing an email at the ancient computer in the corner. Next to him, there is a plastic display for tourist brochures and pamphlets and a table whose dusty surface supports a metallic coffee dispenser, a stack of paper cups, and a basket filled with pink sachets of sugar, plastic stirrers, and jigger pots of milk and cream. Framed photographs of the Manhattan skyline have been hung unevenly and seemingly at random on the beige walls.

My room, up three flights of stairs, proves to be equally spartan. A pair of bunk beds. A bank of lockers for valuables. A grated window that looks out onto a fire escape and down into a dark alley, which is separated from the road by a barbed wire fence. The ceiling fan spins slowly, straining to circulate a dainty handkerchief of tepid air on the slab of dusk that has also taken up residence here.

My bed must be the one on the top left—at least that's the only one that's been made. I strip down to my underwear, stuff my clothes into my rucksack, and place it into the locker with the key still in the hole. Book in hand, I climb up to my berth and lie down on the thin pillow and starchy sheets. The reading lamp clipped to the metal bedpost splutters a few flashes of yellow light before it shines a paltry neon cone on the cover of Zach's copy of The Zero and the One.

On the black background, the white circle of the titular Zero intersects the white circle of the titular One, forming an eye-shaped zone the jacket designer coloured red. Beneath the title, also in red, the name of the author: Hans Abendroth.

From the earliest days of our friendship, Zach and I sought out philosophers whose names would never have appeared on the reading lists we received before the beginning of each term. To our tutors, such thinkers did not merit serious consideration. Our tutors were training us to weigh evidence, parse logic, and refute counter-examples; they encouraged us to put more stock in the rule than the exception and to put our trust in modest truths that could be easily verified and plainly expressed. Whereas the philosophers who interested us were the ones who would step right to the edge of the abyss—and jump to conclusions; the ones who wagered their sanity when they spun the wheel of thought; the ones, in short, who wrote in blood. In counter-intuitiveness we saw profundity and in obfuscation, poetry. With wide eyes, we plucked paperback after paperback from the shelves at Reservoir, the used bookshop opposite the entrance to Christ Church Meadow, our own personal Nag Hammadi, hunting for insights into the hermetic nature of the universe and ourselves.

Zach had seen an aphorism from The Zero and the One cited in Lacan's seminar on Poe, a reappraisal of which had appeared in Theory, a London-based journal of continental philosophy whose back issues Reservoir kept in stock. Subtitled "an essay in speculative arithmetic," The Zero and the One (Null und Eins in the original German) is Abendroth's only book to have been translated into English. For a whole month we searched every bookshop we passed and came up empty-handed—not a negligible failure in a city that must be one of the world's largest markets for used and rare books. Even Dr. Inwit had never heard of Abendroth. The Bodleian had two copies, naturally, but the one that was permitted to circulate was on loan that term. Zach placed a hold on it, only to be told, when he returned to the Philosophy and Theology Faculty to collect it, that it had been reported missing. Despite his insistent pleading, the librarian, citing a recent act of Parliament, refused to divulge the identity of the borrower. When he finally found it, on Niall Graves' shelves at the Theory launch party, he yelped, alarming some of the other partygoers, who must have thought he had just done himself some serious injury.

Though he was quite generous with his money—he picked up the tab wherever we went and never once turned a beggar away—Zach wouldn't let me borrow the book. It was, you might say, his prized possession. He quoted from it often and sometimes read whole passages aloud when he wanted to prove some point. The first time I held it in my hands was four days ago, when his father and I were cleaning out his rooms. Save for the travel guide I bought at Blackwell's, it is the only reading I've brought with me to New York.

I flip through the collection of aphorisms, looking for one in particular. The book shows all the signs of intense study: broken spine, wrinkled edges, dog-eared pages, creased jacket. Inside, the margins are heavily annotated in black pen. The underlining consists of lines so perfectly straight they must have been traced there with a ruler or with the edge of a bookmark.

On my first search, skimming all the dog-eared pages, I fail to find the passage I'm looking for. It was something about The Possessed he read to me that night. Something about Kirillov. Kirillov's suicide. The aphorisms all have titles, but there's no table of contents; nor is there an index of names in the back. I'll have to be more meticulous, examine every sentence Zach found worthy of comment. I turn back to the beginning, but I'm only able to read a few pages before the light bulb splutters again, this time fatally, and the room goes dark. I flick the switch once, twice: the light isn't coming back. I take off my glasses and slip the book under my pillow, giving what remains of my waking attention to the vague, slow circles of the fan and the dim lattice of orange and black the streetlamp has cast on the ceiling.

I've just begun to fall asleep, for the first time in a week, when I hear someone, one of the other guests, struggling with the door lock. Two shadows, one male and one female, stumble into the dark room. From how loudly they whisper to each other not to make any noise, it's clear they're both totally pissed. They fall into the bunk beneath mine; the bedsprings shriek under their combined weight. I cough into my fist, to let them know someone else is in the room, but they remain oblivious or indifferent to my presence. Rather than embarrassed silence, the rustle of fabric. Lips on bare skin. A moan—hers—escapes the fingers of a muffling hand as the bedframe begins to sway. Beneath the small of my back, my mattress elevates slightly. The palms of her hands or the balls of her feet, I wonder.

Outside the window, there is a dull pop. Then another three, in rapid succession. The bedsprings stop contracting abruptly beneath me.

What was that? the woman whispers, petrified.

What was what? Her lover sounds deflated. He knows exactly what she's referring to, and can already tell that he's lost her attention.

That sound.

Nothing, baby, he says. It was nothing. Just a car backfiring.

I never learnt where Zach found those pistols. Where does one buy a handgun anyway? Estate sale? Antique shop? The black market? I hadn't asked, and if I hadn't asked it is because I'd rather not know. When Bernard told me that the Inspector from the Thames Valley Police had managed to trace the pistol (he said pistol, singular, and I certainly wasn't about to correct him), I let it be understood with a wave of my hand that I preferred to be kept in the dark about certain aspects of the case. Still, this hasn't prevented me from speculating. Whoever sold the firearms to Zach would surely have told the Inspector about the second pistol. Unless he bought them from two different people. Unless: he stole them. It wouldn't have been the first time, after all.

The pistols were small and old. Their black barrels were no longer than my outstretched index finger, the sort of weapon my grandfather might have stripped off the corpse of some Nazi officer during the war. They looked ridiculous to me, but Zach was quite serious about them, as he was about any technology the rest of us considered antiquated. When I asked him if they even worked, his expression soured. Of course they do! He'd tested them to make sure. Yanks and their bloody guns. Whatever else they may feel about them, they're all obsessed by them. Even Zach, the latchkey kid born and bred in downtown Manhattan. When he collected me from Prelims, one pistol weighing down each pocket of his dinner jacket, he must have been the most heavily armed person in all of Oxfordshire.

RITUALS OF SUSPENSION.—The ritual that can withstand the deadening weight of its own unbroken repetition has yet to be choreographed. Any ritual so rigid that it fails to include the means of its own periodic suspension is bound to go extinct.

Pembroke is one of the smallest and poorest of Oxford's colleges. The Cotswold stone buildings seem to turn inward, away from bustling St. Aldate's, as if ashamed of the plainness of their features. The Old Quad, where I was given rooms, lies quite literally in the shadow of the fairer sister over the road. Tourists would come from round the world to visit Pembroke Square, only to turn their backs on our Porter's Lodge so they could have a better angle from which to snap a photograph of Tom Tower, the lavishly ornamented gateway to Christ Church.

The college was old enough to have produced a few notable alumni, but the most famous of them, Samuel Johnson, was sent down after a year for a lack of funds. Today, its students are better known for the speed of their oars on the Isis than the speed of their pens in the Exam Schools. It is largely made up of those like me, who have what the Student Union euphemistically calls non-traditional backgrounds, and who were only able to attend the oldest university in England by grace of what the Bursar called, rather less euphemistically, hardship grants. (Mine in particular were financed by the sale, a few years previously, of Man in a Chair, an early painting by Francis Bacon, a poster of which was the only decoration on the walls of my rooms.) Rounding out the Junior Common Room were the thicker products of the public schools, Erasmus scholars from the continent, and Americans on their year abroad.

Of this last group there were around twenty, paying American tuition fees to add English polish to their CVs. The reason for their presence at Pembroke was nakedly economic, a way for a college whose endowment consisted almost entirely of subsidies from its wealthier neighbours to generate a bit of additional revenue. They were lodged in the back staircases of the North Quad, on the main site, with the rest of us first years. Though they were only two years older than I, and though they were living, many for the first time, in a country not their own, this slight difference in age lent them an air of cosmopolitan sophistication; I certainly wasn't the only one to regard the visiting students, as they were called, more as elders than as peers. For better or worse, they generally had the run of the place.

Zach was not long in distinguishing himself, mostly through skirmishes with various members of the college staff concerning the finer points of college etiquette. The first time I recall seeing him, he was being reprimanded by Richard Hughes, the Head Porter, a lean and sallow-faced man in his fifties, whose fingernails were worn longer than his sense of humour. I remember looking out my window to see what the fuss was about below. Zach, it seems, had walked across the immaculate square of lawn in the Old Quad on his way to the pantry. Not content to defer to authority—or local custom—he was demanding, in those flat syllables I'd come to know so well, the explanation for such an absurd rule. The one he was given ("only fellows and newlyweds are permitted to walk on the lawn of the Old Quad") didn't satisfy him. He demanded another. The exasperated Head Porter told him that it was "out of respect for the sleep of the dead monks who are buried there." To this he nodded, convinced and perhaps a tad impressed. But whenever he walked through the Old Quad, he made sure to toe the cobblestones near the edge of the lawn, not seeming to care, now that he had been reprimanded, that he was liable to pay a fine if he lost his balance.

A fortnight later, I was sitting alone at what had already become my regular seat at my regular table, reading whilst I waited for Formal Hall to begin. I was dressed subfusc—jacket, white bowtie (in my case poorly knotted), black commoner's gown—the requisite attire. Zach arrived in the company of Gregory Glass, in the middle of a heated political debate.

"I can't believe what I'm hearing!" Gregory was saying. The other visiting student from Columbia, Gregory was short and barrel-chested, with long curly brown hair that was held off his face, no matter what time of day, by a sporty pair of sunglasses. I'd already seen him several times at macroeconomics lectures, furiously scribbling away in the front row. That term, not a single lecture would conclude without Gregory raising his hand to ask a question, or rather, to give a meandering observation in an interrogative tone.

He asked me if they could sit at my table and, without waiting to hear my answer, continued talking to his friend. "Don't tell me," he said, in a voice that could be heard from one end of the hall to the other, "you're going to throw your vote away on Nader!"

"I'm not throwing away my vote," Zach replied, perfectly calm. "I'm not voting."

"But it's your duty to vote! You complain about the government all the time, but when you're given the chance to actually change things, you throw it—"

"See, that's where you're wrong. My vote doesn't actually change anything. Nor does yours, Greg. You and I are registered in states that have already pledged their electors to Gore. And anyway, on the major issues there is a consensus between the two parties that differs only in rhetorical emphasis. During the presidential debates, the questions are never How should we organize our economy? but What flavor of capitalism would you like? Never What role should the United States have in the world? but How blatant should we be about our empire? Third-party candidates like Nader, who at least would give the election the veneer of choice, are marginalized into irrelevance by unregulated campaign finance laws and"—here he pointed a finger at Gregory—"the bad-faith scare tactics of pseudo-leftists and lesser-evil socialists like you."

Fuming, Gregory tried to respond to this accusation, but Zach sped to his next point before he could get a word in. "So don't tell me it's my duty to accept this state of affairs. It's not my duty to give legitimacy to this farce we call democracy. Under the present conditions, voting is one of those customs more honored in the breach than the observance."

Gregory looked like he was going to lean across the table and grab Zach by the bowtie to get him to stop talking. To make sure he wouldn't be interrupted again, he almost shouted his rejoinder. "Man, you're so full of shit! I'd rather be a 'pseudo-leftist' than the beautiful soul who's scared to get his hands dirty in actual politics. You think of yourself as a purist, but you're just a cynic with a trust fund. You talk about not being able to opt out of capitalism? Why would you even want to? You're its beneficiary! I've never met anyone more bourgeois than you."

"As Marx defined bourgeois, maybe," Zach said, with a dismissive twirl of his wrist. "But not as Flaubert defined it. Speaking of cynicism, Comrade Glass, let's say for the sake of discussion that your socialist dream is realized on earth. Poverty is eradicated, exploitation rooted out, war declared a thing of the past, and total freedom of thought is granted to all. That's the idea, right? Now, will mankind hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, raise cattle in the evening, and criticize after dinner, as Marx predicted?" he asked, counting off each activity on his fingers before answering his own question. "No! They'll shop in the morning, fill their prescriptions in the afternoon, watch TV in the evening, and die of boredom after dinner! Stupidity is not just the result of false consciousness and organized oppression. It's the natural condition of the vast majority of mankind. It's the one thing that is equally distributed among the rich and the poor. Solving our political and economic problems will do nothing to answer the question, Why bother? In fact, all evidence suggests that it will only make that question more difficult to answer."

Meanwhile, the hall had filled up with students and the fellows of the college had taken their places at the High Table. In a slow roll, the current of conversation ebbed and the hall flooded with the sound of bustling chairs as we all stood to hear the Classics Tutor recite the Latin Grace. All save Zach, that is, who remained seated. He took the opportunity to slide my book close enough to him to get a better view of the cover. He tapped the title with two fingers—I was reading The Birth of Tragedy—and nodded with approval. Grace concluded, the sound of conversation and sliding chairs and clanking cutlery resumed. The waiting staff appeared and began to place the starters on our plates.

Gregory returned to his seat and gave Zach a stern look.

"I bet you were the kid in homeroom who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance."

"We didn't have homeroom at The Gansevoort School, Greg."

The Hall Manager had also noticed the sole seated student and went to enquire into this breach of conduct. The Hall Manager was called Mr. Stroop, a squat man well past middle age, whom I couldn't stand. Stroop had worked at Pembroke for over a decade, but was far less convincing than the Head Porter in performing his role as the guardian of the college's traditions and values. It was precisely in his comical assiduousness that he betrayed his working-class origins. No one who belonged at Oxford, who was slated to go there from birth, from before their birth, cared half so much for the college's traditions and values as he did. This confounded and perplexed him, but as he did not understand why it was the case, he was undeterred in his mission. Queuing up at the pantry one day, I heard him correct the pronunciation of an American who had ordered his sandwich without tomato. "It's toh-mah-toe," he said. "Not toh-may-toe. You've come all this way to receive a proper education. You should at least learn how to order a sandwich." A proper education. One he himself had not received. A fact that was not lost on the American, who sneered at this bit of servility and told him to bring the sandwich "without toh-mah-toe. Right quick!" Which Stroop did, causing me to wince.

Implying he couldn't hear what was being said over the general din, though he must have known quite well what the Hall Manager was there to discuss, Zach motioned him closer to his ear. Stroop stooped as he was told and the whole table quieted down to listen to what promised to be a duel of insincere politeness.

"Mr. Foedern—"

"How may I be of help, sir?"

"I couldn't help but notice that you—and you alone—were not standing during the recitation of Grace."

"Yes, sir, you'll have to forgive me. You see, I don't speak Latin."

"Don't speak Latin? I'm afraid I don't see what that's got to do with it."

"I'll explain. To stand means to assent, no?"

"To stand? Yes, I reckon…"

"Well, there you have it. I can't assent if I don't understand what's being said. And I can't stand if I don't assent. So perhaps you'll be so good as to translate the Grace for me so I can decide whether I assent or not."

Zach batted his eyelashes with feigned innocence and, receiving no response from the flustered Hall Manager—whose only Latin, needless to say, was Veni vidi vici and Dominus illuminatio mea—tucked into his prawns. Mr. Stroop interrupted him to escort him to the High Table so the Classics Tutor could translate the Grace for him. I watched Zach listen gravely, exchange a few words with Stroop, and return to his place at the table. But he did not sit down. He poured himself another glass of wine and drank it in a single swallow.

"Now that I understand," he told us, "I definitely do not assent."

"Where are you going?" Gregory demanded.

"To Hassan's," Zach said, referring to the kebab van on Broad Street. "I'm sure they will agree with my position on the Latin Grace."


  • "A gripping, intellectually agile book that dresses like a coming of age narrative, but soon reveals itself to be something new, wholly original and philosophically rich. If you've ever read a crime novel and wished for a deeper answer to the mystery - an existential Whydunnit rather than a Whodunnit - then this masterful work by Ryan Ruby will thrill you, and give you much ominous food for thought."—Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine
  • "Ryan Ruby has written a brilliant and captivating novel...dark as Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels, with...a setting that reminds one of Evelyn Waugh, and...texture that evokes P.G. Wodehouse. It's as sharp as a tack, and the pages turn themselves."—Benjamin Hale, author of The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
  • "Beautifully written and minutely observed, THE ZERO AND THE ONE brilliantly encapsulates the agony and the ecstasy of the search for meaning in late adolescence."—Jenny Davidson, author of The Magic Circle and Reading Style: A Life in Sentences
  • "THE ZERO AND THE ONE is brilliantly erudite, deeply engaging, and full of heart. Ryan Ruby has captured something surprising--the ineluctable sadness of youth."—Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London
  • "A ferocious hybrid of a book: part novel of philosophy, part thriller, completely absorbing. It's the sort of book you read in a day - reminded, between gulps, of The Secret History and The Talented Mr. Ripley - and then spend months thinking about."—Ben Dolnick, author of Zoology and At the Bottom of Everything
  • "THE ZERO AND THE ONE is a fast-paced, philosophical meditation on what qualifies as the worst crime one can commit."—Booklist
  • "Skillfully plotted and...intriguing. An undeniably propulsive read." —Publishers Weekly
  • "This is a rare book -- a compulsively readable page-turner that is actually, unapologetically, smart."—LA Review of Books

On Sale
Mar 7, 2017
Page Count
272 pages

Ryan Ruby

About the Author

Ryan Ruby was born in 1983. His fiction and criticism have appeared in a variety of literary magazines including The Baffler,Conjunctions, Dissent, Lapham’s Quarterly, and n+1. He has translated two novellas from French for Readux Books. He lives in Berlin.

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