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Lesser Ruins by Mark Haber




About Lesser Ruins

From the author of Reinhardt’s Garden and Saint Sebastian’s Abyss comes a breathless new novel of delirious obsession.

Bereft after the death of his ailing wife, a retired professor has resumed his life’s work—a book that will stand as a towering cathedral to Michel de Montaigne, reframing the inventor of the essay for the modern age. The challenge is the litany of intrusions that bar his way—from memories of his past to the nattering of smartphones to his son’s relentless desire to make an electronic dance album.

As he sifts through the contents of his desk, his thoughts pulsing and receding in a haze of caffeine, ghosts and grievances spill out across the page. From the community college where he toiled in vain to an artists’ colony in the Berkshires, from the endless pleasures of coffee to the finer points of Holocaust art, the professor’s memories churn with sculptors, poets, painters, and inventors, all obsessed with escaping both mediocrity and themselves.

Laced with humor as acrid as it is absurd, Lesser Ruins is a spiraling meditation on ambition, grief, and humanity’s ecstatic, agonizing search for meaning through art.



Praise for Lesser Ruins


Literary Hub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2024”

“This book is a work of art . . . not only hysterical but incredibly moving, to the last page.”
—Fernando A. Flores, author of Tears of the Trufflepig

“Written with emotional force but also with great restraint and unremitting integrity, Lesser Ruins is the most ambitious addition yet in Mark Haber’s brilliant Bernhardian project.”
—Martin Riker, author of The Guest Lecture

“Lesser Ruins is a transcendent rumination, a study of, among other things, literature, obsession, and the mind. For all its breathlessness, a silence settled around me as I read it.”
—Amina Cain, author of A Horse at Night: On Writing

“In Lesser Ruins, Haber transforms the private idiosyncrasies of grief into a novel of great vitality. Haber has a tremendous talent for revealing the forms of self-sabotage particular to academia but also forms of it found everywhere, the lesser ruins that humans have been making for themselves and others for millennia. I relished the complexity and understated humor of this impeccably constructed and wondrous novel.”
—Idra Novey, author of Take What You Need

“Lesser Ruins is a masterwork of a novel, as expansive as it is discerning, ironic, and extraordinarily sensitive.”
—Mandy-Suzanne Wong, author of The Box

“An amazing yet human reflection on the life we want, the history we’ve lived, and the future we can give ourselves, with the heart of a Sigrid Nunez novel, the style and comedy of a Bernhard work, and the language and personality of Jon Fosse.”
—Jonathan Golding



About Mark Haber


Mark Haber was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Florida. His debut novel, Reinhardt’s Garden (2019, Coffee House Press), was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award. His second novel, Saint Sebastian’s Abyss (2022, Coffee House Press), was named a best book of 2022 by the New York Public Library, Literary Hub, and Publishers Weekly. Mark’s fiction has appeared in Guernica, Southwest Review, and Air/Light, among others. Mark lives in Minneapolis.