Pilot Impostor

Author: Hannaham, James

Publication Date:

November 2021



Original language and publisher

English | Soft Skull

Territories Handled

World English


Literary Fiction

Pilot Impostor

Author: Hannaham, James


“Like the poetry of Pessoa and his various avatars, Pilot Impostor is bursting with ideas, a swirl of intellectual energy . . . What emerges is a sort of argument in fragments, riddled with modern dread, demanding us to look behind the artifice and connect to Hannaham’s vision of humanity.” — The Los Angeles Times

“If, like me, you loved Delicious Foods and have been waiting for an encore, the mishmash of poems and photographs you find in your hands here might make you nervous, but by its end you’ll be glad that James Hannaham made the choices he did. For, as Hannaham himself writes, in ‘Rinse Aid’: ‘Find me a business like a poem—constructed with ecstasy and precision, guided by honesty, truth-seeking, compassionate. I’ll work there.” — The Rumpus

“Hannaham’s book—not quite a novel, not quite a short story collection, not quite like anything else—is a clever series of reflections on art, doubt, race, and impostor syndrome . . . Hannaham continues to be one of the country’s smartest and most surprising writers of fiction . . . Unclassifiable, dizzying, and gorgeous.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A captivating blend of prose and verse . . . Hannaham’s stimulating work moves like a plane in tailspin, tossing off flashes of wisdom as the ground below gets ever closer. It’s a ride worth taking.” Publishers Weekly

“Whether read as prose poems or short aphoristic thought experiments, the pieces are infused with Hannaham’s distinctive dark humor, biting social commentary, and ever-present exuberance . . . Calling to mind a blend of Jorge Luis Borges, Donald Barthelme, David Markson, and Steve Martin, the result is daringly original and uninhibitedly inventive, born aloft by subversive verve.” — Booklist

From PEN/Faulkner and Hurston/Wright Legacy award-winning author, James Hannaham, Pilot Impostor, a multi-genre book of responses to poems by Fernando Pessoa and his heteronyms, explores the connections between pretending and privilege, and the ways in which identity is like a plane crash.

This hybrid work of short prose and images uses the work of Fernando Pessoa (specifically his poetry collection Fernando Pessoa and Co.) as well as the phenomenon of plane crashes (filtered through the author’s fascination with the TV show Air Disasters) to examine selfhood, identity, and reality, and how they break apart. It considers the black boxes, forensics, con men, hoaxes, turbulence, the slave trade, algorithms, error messages, travel, rage, and death. In its mournfulness, humor, and agility, Pilot Impostor will remind readers of Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Mary Ruefle’s My Private Property.

Marketing Information

  • Unedited manuscript available