Early Sobrieties

Publication Date:

April 2024



Original language and publisher

English | Astra House

Territories Handled

World excl. North America

Territories Sold

English (UK & BC excl Can) (Hutchinson Heinemann/PRH UK)
Greece (Gutenberg/Dardanos)

Early Sobrieties


★ Dennis is nimble-tongued and keenly observant, and the book offers all sorts of humorous delights. Yet the reader quickly sees, too, that irony is Dennis’ protective coloration, that his wit is anxious and self-preserving. [ . . . ] Wry, sharp, charming, resistant to neat closures and easy turns—a debut of enormous promise. — Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)

★ A young man surfaces from the depths of alcoholism in Deagler’s pitch-perfect debut novel . . . a wizened and wry outlook on the rapidly transforming city . . . This is a standout. — Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Early Sobrieties is a miracle, a debut of startling beauty, grit, and grace. Cutting into the glow of its lyricism and humor, the awesome glare of undeceived vision illuminates every page. — Greg Jackson, author of The Dimensions of a Cave

Funny, insightful, and, above all, well-written, Early Sobrieties is a pleasure to read. Deagler manages to tell the story of his bewildered and rudderless protagonist in a way that is not rudderless at all, but rather precise and meaningful. — David Sanchez, author of All Day is a Long Time

A luminous and observant debut about all the strangeness of returning to the places that formed you. The prose is spectacular. — Akil Kumarasamy, author of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea

Emotionally raw, often jaded, but still full of wonder, Early Sobrieties is an incredibly funny and tender story. Michael Deagler does a fantastic job of bringing into relief the absurdities of being a young adult and trying to find your place in a changing world. — Craig Finn, songwriter and frontman of The Hold Steady

Michael Deagler is the real deal. This novel is surprising in all the best ways. The actions of the complex and complicated people in this world are not predictable, but always, frighteningly, believable. Deagler writes with great control and understatement. This is a truly intelligent work from a clearly intelligent writer. — Percival Everett, 2023 Windham Campbell Prize recipient and author of Dr. No

Deagler’s debut pulls in a reader with such an inviting clarity—there’s something about the honesty in this voice that creates a lot of room for the reader to feel and makes for an illuminating and moving read. — Aimee Bender, author of The Butterfly Lampshade

[A] moving, comic meditation on the impossibility of imposing narrative structure on our lives — which, despite our best efforts, tend to be baggy things, marred by loose ends, tedious repetitions and harrowing codas. It’s enough to simply reach tomorrow. “Just give me one more day,” Monk says, and Early Sobrieties is such a wise and piercing book that we believe him. — Charlie Lee, The New York Times Book Review

[Monk] has a recovering addict’s sense of the near-religious profundity of the day-to-day, the wry humor of a sober man among drunks, and a newly clear-eyed view of familiar people and places (or nearly familiar: the blackouts of his drinking days, their unknowability, haunt Monk’s newfound sober ones). — Meghan Racklin, The Brooklyn Rail

Grimly funny debut novel. — Philadelphia Magazine

Deagler’s debut shines as a raw and captivating introspective journey. He blends humor, insight, and sparkling prose to explore the complexities of sobriety and self-discovery. — Debutiful

With a keen wit, an empath’s heart, and a propensity to distill life as we know it down to its purest moments, Early Sobrieties is as solid and self-assured as a debut gets. — Sam Franzini, Our Culture Magazine

Michael Deagler’s novel Early Sobrieties is one of the strongest debuts I have read in years, a book as wise as it is compelling. — David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy

South Philly is a distinct character here, its kudzu of grit, gentrification, and endless mazes of rowhouses bewildering to a soul newly emerged from the chemical haze of addiction. Broad Street Review 

Lightly existential and very Philadelphia, this debut follows a newly sober young man on a pilgrimage through a city in flux. With inventive set pieces and a dry humor, Early Sobrieties depicts everyday life balanced between the absurd and the sublime. — Nora, RJ Julia Independent Booksellers

Inventive, episodic novel of a 26-year old Philadelphian’s first year of sobriety. Each chapter is delightfully packed with surprises, compelling characters and situations, and the narrator’s awareness of both their absurdity and significance. Deagler’s welcome debut is a gem from start to finish. — Mike Hare, Northshire Bookstore

Early Sobrieties is a deep dive into lower-middle class America and the people who reside there as seen through the eyes of a recovering addict who is trying to find his place in the world. — Mary OMalley, Skylark Bookshop

What a wonderful and delightful book — I could not put it down! With smart wit, spot-on dialogue, and an array of amusingly odd characters, Deagler showcases the complexities of being sober in a society that most of the time is not ready to embrace the likes of a non-drinker like Dennis Monk. Set in Philadelphia, this is a love story to those who call this multifaceted city their home. So, so good! — Kathy Mailloux, East City Bookshop

Early Sobrieties highlights poignantly that in the battle against addiction, each day is an ongoing fight to stay away from your drug of choice and to continue the process of rebuilding your life. […] Deagler’s debut reflects a vivid sense of South Philly as a backdrop to this intimate story and I look forward to what comes next for (and from) him. —Pei Chen, BookBrowse

As much as we delve into our hero’s awkward journey, this engaging & deeply personal novel is a fascinating character study into almost the almost dozen delightfully weird and diverse people kind enough to help our newly sober buddy out. —Seth, Carmichael’s Bookstore (staff pick)

Don’t worry about what Dennis Monk did when he was drinking. He’s sober now, and ready to rejoin the world of leases and paychecks, reciprocal friendships and healthy romances—if only the world would agree to take him back. When Monk’s working-stiff parents kick him out of their suburban home, mere months into his frangible sobriety, the 26-year-old spends his first dry summer couch surfing through South Philadelphia, struggling to find a place for himself in the throng of adulthood.

Monk’s haphazard pilgrimage leads him through a city in flux: growing, gentrifying, haunted by its past and its unrealized potential. Everyone he knows seems to be doing better than him—and most of them aren’t even doing that well. His run-ins with former classmates, estranged drinking buddies, and prospective lovers reveal that recovery is not the happy ending he’d expected, only a fraught next chapter.

Early Sobrieties is the eloquent confessional of an addict who is lost and found, then lost again. Like a sober, millennial Jesus’ Son, Michael Deagler’s debut novel offers an existential trek into the enigma of sobriety itself, and a narrator in need of just a little more grace.

Marketing Information

  • Featured in the Publishers Weekly Grab a Galley Winter/Spring 2024 Preview.
  • Featured in the PRH Library “Debut Authors You’ll Love” newsletter and included in their “Debuts 2024” Edelweiss collection
  • Featured on the Alta Journal list of “15 New Books for May”
  • Michael Deagler participated in the PRH Spring Book and Author Festival
  • Debutiful “15 noteworthy debut books to read this May”
  • Philadelphia Magazine “10 New Books by Philly Authors to Read This Summer”
  • BookBrowse “New This Week” for the week of May 5, 2024
  • Michael Deagler was interviewed in Our Culture Magazine
  • Michael Deagler’s interview in Electric Literature was reposted in the Addiction/Recovery eBulletin
  • Included on Alina Grabowski’s TBR list on the Read With Jenna Instagram
  • The New York Times Book Review rave review was published under the headline “Temperate Zone”
  • On Philadelphia novelist Emma Copley Eisenberg’s list of “Local Book Recommendations” in the Philadelphia Citizen
  • BookMarks features RAVE ratings on their website
  • Mentioned by Emma Copley Eisenberg as a good Philadelphia book on the Books Are Magic podcast
  • Shout out from Emma Copley Eisenberg in her Electric Literature interview
  • Received a favorable review from the UK’s The Telegraph
  • One of the books mentioned in the Joplin Globe‘s list of new books at the Joplin Public Library (Missouri)
  • A New York Times Editors’ Choice
  • Ad banner placement in the Harper’s Magazine Weekly Review newsletter – included is Michael Deagler’s original story “The Pleasure of a Working Life”
  • On the Kirkus Reviews‘ list of 20 debuts from authors to watch
  • Featured in the July/August 2024 Poets & Writers “First Fiction 2024” roundup of the best debuts of the summer, with an excerpt from the book. The print edition features an interview with Michael Deagler by Akil Kumarasamy
  • One of The Telegraph (UK)’s best novels of 2024 so far
  • Michael Deagler was interviewed by Maria Stoltz in The London Magazine
  • Excerpt available at Book Browse, including our Reading Guide questions
  • On the New England Review list of “New Books by NER Authors,” published July 1, 2024
  • Received a highly favorable 5 star review in BookBrowse, Highlighted among their “Top Picks” on July 22, 2024. BookBrowse has also published a “Beyond the Book” article on “South Philadelphia Over the Years”
  • On The Telegraph (UK) list of “The 75 hottest books of 2024 so far”, published July 13, 2024