The May 2016 release of Justin Cronin’s The City of Mirrors, the final installment in The Passage Trilogy, has once again launched him to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Cronin, dubbed “an unlikely heir to America’s genre-fiction throne” by The New York Times, has produced “an undeniable and compelling epic . . . a complex narrative of flight and forgiveness, of great suffering and staggering loss, of terrible betrayals and incredible hope” (Journal Sentinel) that delivers a gripping conclusion “with all of the heartbreak, joy, and unexpected twists of fate that events in The Passage and The Twelve foreordained” (Publisher’s Weekly, starred review).
A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Cronin’s books Mary and O’Neil and his 2004 novel, The Summer Guest, exemplify the kind of delicate yet deliberate writing and memorable character portraits that readers have come to expect from award-winning literary fiction. With 2010’s blockbuster The Passage, however, Cronin turned to darker, more gripping fare. The Passage debuted at #3 on The New York Times bestseller list and has since sold over a million copies. It features many of the hallmarks of a genre fiction blockbuster: a brooding, post-apocalyptic setting; what Publishers Weekly calls “a sweeping epic style”; and supernatural antagonists with exceptional strength and a thirst for blood. But The Passage is not your typical vampire novel. The Passage and its sequels The Twelve and The City of Mirrors comprise a trilogy that Stephen King has called “enthralling”—not merely for its hypnotic intensity, but for the raw beauty of its prose.
The Passage begins with a devastating breach of security at a U.S. government facility. Death-row inmates have been deliberately infected with a rare virus, giving them superhuman strength and insatiable bloodlust. Spanning more than 90 years, The Passage combines elements of horror, science fiction, and fantasy in a way that ultimately transcends genre conventions. In contrast to Cronin’s first two novels, which are graceful and restrained, a recent New York Times profile concluded, “The Passage and The Twelve vibrate with a different kind of energy: louder, wilder, more unkempt.” The San Francisco Chronicle selected The Passage as one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2010, while The National Post called it “Homeric” and “one of the creepiest books” of the year. The highly anticipated final installment, The City of Mirrors, was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller that “…brings the series to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion, but also exhibits Cronin’s moving exploration of love as both a destructive force and an elemental need, elevating this work among its dystopian peers.” (Library Journal, starred review).
Cronin originally conceived of The Passage in a conversation with his daughter Iris, now a teenager, who asked her father to write a novel in which a girl saves the world. For Cronin, the heart of The Passage is a young girl named Amy, mournful and abandoned, who may indeed hold the key to saving those few survivors who do exist. Cronin—who admits to never having read any of the Twilight books—has bridged the divide between “literary” and genre fiction. When Stephen King saw Cronin on Good Morning America, King called to congratulate him: “You put the scare back in vampires, buddy!”
“[The Passage is] a bona fide thriller that is sharply written, deeply humane, ablaze with big ideas, and absolutely impossible to put down.”
He lives with his family in Houston, Texas, where he taught creative writing at Rice University for many years. In addition to the PEN/Hemingway Award, Cronin is the recipient of the Stephen Crane Prize, a Whiting Writer’s Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and many other honors.
For more information on Justin Cronin, please visit enterthepassage.com.