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Beautiful Shining People

Discover this year's most extraordinary, breathtaking, MASTERFUL speculative novel … SFX Book of the Month

Published by Orenda Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A damaged teenage tech prodigy meets an enigmatic waitress in a tiny Tokyo café, sparking an epic journey across Japan that will change everything, forever … a captivating, masterful novel with an extraordinary mystery at its heart…

‘Set against a tech heavy backdrop Beautiful Shining People blooms into an emotional and soulful tale that reckons with the isolation we can all feel as outsiders’ SciFi Now Book of the Month

‘That Beautiful Shining People isn’t just a slipstream novel with pretensions to being literature is in great part down to the deftness and tenderness with which Grothaus draws his central relationship … to let us explore a world of robots and deepfakes that’s just unfamiliar enough to be exotic’ SFX Magazine Book of the Month

‘A fascinating exploration of what it means to be human in a world where everything can be faked … wonderful, insightful and thoughtful’ James Oswald


This world is anything but ordinary, and it’s about to change forever…

It’s our world, but decades into the future…

An ordinary world, where cars drive themselves, drones glide across the sky, and robots work in burger shops. There are two superpowers and a digital Cold War, but all conflicts are safely oceans away. People get up, work, and have dinner. Everything is as it should be…

Except for seventeen-year-old John, a tech prodigy from a damaged family, who hides a deeply personal secret. But everything starts to change for him when he enters a tiny café on a cold Tokyo night. A café run by a disgraced sumo wrestler, where a peculiar dog with a spherical head lives, alongside its owner, enigmatic waitress Neotnia…

But Neotnia hides a secret of her own – a secret that will turn John’s unhappy life upside down. A secret that will take them from the neon streets of Tokyo to Hiroshima’s tragic past to the snowy mountains of Nagano.

A secret that reveals that this world is anything ordinary – and it’s about to change forever…


‘Poetically written, every word of this adventure leaps off the page with passion. A wonderful and enlightening trip’ The Sun

‘Cyberpunk meets bildungsroman – a real joy’ Oscar de Muriel

‘Exquisite world-building, this book had me invested from the very first page. Vivid plot and irresistible characters and a real tug at the soul … you'll drown in it’ Lisa Bradley

‘A life-affirming, epic book about what it is to be human: to live, to dream, to hope, to love … at a time when we most need reminding of these things’ David F Ross

‘Totally engrossing from the start – the story, characters and settings will linger in your imagination long after you're finished … truly wonderful’ Jonathan Whitelaw

‘Masterful … truly breathtaking and achingly beautiful. It builds anticipation and suspense before coming together in a thrilling, captivating conclusion’ The Bookbag

‘Outstanding! Sci-fi showing how the past might impact on the future … a glimpse into a (very plausible) terrifying future’ Michael J Malone

What readers are saying…


‘A beautiful, emotional and thought-provoking read’

‘A striking and strange novel – and a searing statement about the dangerously thin lines between utopia and dystopia’

‘Just devastatingly beautiful’

‘My book of the year … no question’

‘Masterful storytelling’

‘Grothaus has a bewitching ability to stop time in a moment, and then run seemlessly into action with unstoppable momentum’

‘Succinctly captured the feeling of Japanese fiction. I was very much put in mind of Haruki Murakami or Toshikazu Kawaguchi’

About The Author

Novelist and journalist Michael Grothaus was born in Saint Louis, Missouri. He spent his twenties in Chicago where he earned his degree in filmmaking from Columbia and got his start in journalism writing for Screen. After working for institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth Century Fox, and Apple he earned his postgraduate degree with distinction in creative writing from the University of London. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, Litro Magazine, Fast Company, VICE, the Irish Times, Screen, Quartz, and others. His debut novel is EPIPHANY JONES, a story about sex trafficking among the Hollywood elite. It was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award in 2017 and in 2018 was named one of the 25 "Most Irresistible Hollywood Novels" by Entertainment Weekly.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Orenda Books (March 16, 2023)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781914585647

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