Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
Sean McDonald

There are professional thrills and there are professional thrills, but I am extra especially thrilled to report that FSG is going to be publishing John Darnielle’s novel, Wolf in White Van, this fall. John is famous for his work with the Mountain Goats, and I suspect that none of the many fans who know his lyrics and have heard his stories will be surprised by the revelation that his is a genuinely literary mind. And it’s true—Wolf in White Van emphatically proves that his imagination and voice are at least as at home on the page as they are in song.

There are many things worth singling out for praise in Wolf in White Van: the unforgettable main character, Sean Phillips, who has been isolated by a disfiguring injury since age seventeen; Trace Italian, the intricate game within the novel that Sean created and runs; the interplay of real and imagined worlds, which is both complex and heartbreaking; the structure of the storytelling—audacious, brilliant, and never anything but convincing and unreasonably suspenseful; the prose itself, which is precise and beautiful and (forgive me) lyrical. But the greatest and perhaps most unexpected satisfaction is the quality that encompasses all these things, that this is simply a magnificent novel, weird and dark and wonderful, adventurous and spellbinding in the way of any great piece of literary art.

And that’s probably enough adjectives from me.

For those of you unfamiliar with John Darnielle and the Mountain Goats, let me direct you to the internet. You will find, of course, their music, and Darnielle’s celebrated lyrics. You will find John’s fantastic, impassioned Twitter feed (@mountain_goats), his long-running column for Decibel magazine, and reviews of his entry in the 33-1/3 music book series, on Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality. You may also encounter news of the campaign to nominate John for Poet Laureate of the United States.

If that’s not enough to convince you that this guy can write a novel, then maybe our cover for the book, which we reveal here for the first time—courtesy of the esteemed Rodrigo Corral, designed by Timothy Goodman—will do the job:

Wolf in White Van
Barnes and Noble



And just to push you over the top, how about a few words from Daniel Handler?

“John Darnielle’s novel moves through the mind like a dark-windowed car through a sleepy neighborhood, quiet, mysterious, menacing, taking you places you will never, never get out of your head.”

Just try to resist that. Look forward to seeing you come October.


—Sean McDonald

Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle will be published in the United States in October by FSG. It will be published simultaneously in Canada by HarperCollins Canada.

Sean McDonald is John Darnielle’s editor. He is also VP, Executive Editor, and Director of Digital and Paperback of Publishing at FSG, and Publisher of FSG Originals.

 Previously (with John Darnielle and FSG Originals):