Riker's novel ‘The Guest Lecture’ receives critical praise

“The Guest Lecture,” a novel by Martin Riker, senior lecturer in English, is gaining widespread acclaim, including a recent review in the New York Review of Books. The novel explores the inner mind of a struggling academic as she prepares a lecture on John Maynard Keynes, an English economist. In her review, writer Meghan O’Gieblyn praised Riker’s “virtuosity” and said his protagonist is “one of the most convincing female narrators written by a man.”

Other critics have weighed in with strong praise. Writing in The New York Times, Dwight Garner called the novel “charming and slyly philosophical.” Garner highlighted the “meta-magical” passage where an imaginary Keynes shows up to offer advice on the lecture. At one point Keynes acknowledges that “tomorrow, let’s face it, won’t go very well.”

Nicholas Dames, editor in chief of Public Books, called “The Guest Lecture” a “dark, layered, yet somehow also buoyant reflection on how very damaged intellectual life can be.”

Riker said he’s amazed and gratified by the positive reviews and overall buzz around his second novel. “It's actually a very unusual novel, and with any unconventional literary work, an enthusiastic critical reception is never a given,” he said. “These are all incredibly smart, articulate critics, so the book is not just getting talked about, but talked about in the smartest ways.”