Every Boy Should Have a Man

Nominated for the 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Fiction!

A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy Fiction Pick for 2013

"Allen's concise book's power lies within its understated irony, never more heavy-handed than a preacher’s admonition that 'a world without mans is a world without us all.' The plain narrative and relationship between boy and female man, rounded out with humor and occasional (sometimes literal) bite, promises to be a sleeper favorite among speculative audiences."
--Publishers Weekly

"Allen...throws caution to the wind with his bizarre but exquisitely composed fable that uses transhumanism as the prism to reflect on the nature of humanity...It's also intellectually curious and rather cutting in many of its conceptual and cultural assessments. It's a world where man is not only pet, but also meat, where religion, wars and empires are just as backward as they are in our own world, and where worlds collide with a temperamental angst that is as uncomfortable as it is alluring. Much like Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel Planet of the Apes, this novel is a sardonic parable on the nature and destiny of the species. A nimble fable whose bold narrative experiment is elevated by its near-biblical language and affectionate embrace of our inherent flaws."
--Kirkus Reviews

"An imaginative and honest epic, weaving together biblical stories, fantasy, poetry, and fairy tales with a touch of realism...Allen asks us to question the assumptions, -isms, and contradictions of the modern world...Recalling the humanitarian concerns of Octavia Butler's Fledgling and the poetry of Ovid's Metamorphosis, this book will appeal to readers of literary fiction and fantasy."
--Library Journal

"Imaginative, versatile, and daring Allen (Jesus Boy, 2010) raids the realms of myth and fairy tales in this topsy-turvy speculative fable....With canny improvisations on 'Jack and the Beanstalk,' the 'Epic of Gilgamesh,' and Alice in Wonderland, Allen sharpens our perceptions of class divides, racism, enslavement, and abrupt and devastating climate change to create a delectably adventurous, wily, funny, and wise cautionary parable."
--Booklist

"There's no doubt this is an original story and one you should read."
--Book Sp(l)ot Reviews

"From this point forward, readers consulting any reference work addressing the concept of tour de force will find there a citation of Preston L. Allen's Every Boy Should Have a Man. It is one thing to devise a fable dealing so adroitly with such concepts as racism, war, religion, and the very nature of civilization itself, but Preston's true triumph is the infusion of each page and every astonishing episode with palpable emotional resonance."
--Les Standiford, author of Desperate Sons

A riveting, poignant satire of societal ills with an added dose of fantasy, Every Boy Should Have a Man takes place in a post-human world where creatures called oafs keep humanlike "mans" as beloved pets. One day, a poor boy oaf brings home a man whom he hides under his bed in the hopes his parents won't find out.

With echoes of Margaret Atwood and Jack and the Beanstalk, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Octavia Butler's Kindred, this is a picaresque journey into uncharted territory in earth, sky, and firmament.

Oafs and mans each gain insight and understanding into one another's worlds, and the worlds that touch theirs—ultimately showing that oafs and mans alike share a common "humanity." Filled with surprising twists and turns, the novel is in part a morality tale that takes on many of today's issues, including poverty, the environment, sexism, racism, war, and religion, all in lighthearted King James prose.

Reviews from Goodreads.com

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By John (Brighton, MA) · ★★★☆☆ · December 25, 2013
While this short novel has faults -- a not-fully-realized cosmology, and an overt didacticism -- it provides an interesting look at an alternate, post-human reality where humans are hunted for sport, eaten for food and kept as pets by "oafs". The first half of the book is more fully developed tha... ...more
By CELIA (Miami, FL) · ★★★★★ · May 27, 2013
My homie Preston Allen’s new novel, Every Boy Should Have a Man (Akashic, 2013) is the most interesting book I’ve read this year. Since it’s still only May, let me rephrase that: it’s the most interesting book I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s not the sort of novel I often read; it’s neither r... ...more
By Cristina (The United States) · ★★★★☆ · May 04, 2013
I'll admit that 4 stars is a bit arbitrary because I really couldn't think of the right rating. I really enjoyed reading this book (at least the first 90%... the last section of the book, I thought, dragged on). This book deals with many harsh themes - sexism, classism, religion, rape - and it de... ...more
By Gilbert (Round Rock, TX) · ★★★★★ · March 25, 2014
Every boy should have a man was an excellent book, reshaping myth and religion in a new way, yet holding on to much of the old, faith and the faithless, giants before a flood, twin firmaments and other snippets from religious texts and while being a parable of faith, it is also a parable about th... ...more
By Sheral (Salt Lake City, UT) · ★☆☆☆☆ · August 12, 2013
Didn't like this book. It's the worst version of Jack and the Beanstalk. The first thing is it wasn't a page turner, the violence could've been left to the readers imagination it was disgusting how it was described. All in all to me it was an ugly disgusting unelightening book. I had to force mys... ...more
By Rebecca (Boston, MA) · ★★☆☆☆ · May 25, 2013
This is rather a hard book to review. Partly because it doesn't really fit into any category that I can name and partly because I'm not really sure how I felt about it. It is part fairy tale, part myth, part dystopian fiction and a few other parts too. It explores themes of slavery, cannibalism,... ...more
By Davenport Public Library (Davenport, IA) · January 09, 2014
Trying to put into words how I feel about Preston L. Allen’s Every Boy Should Have a Man isn't easy. I keep trying to avoid calling the book weird — as not to turn away potential readers — while still imparting the distinct oddness of this novel. I want to explain how unnerving the novel can be a... ...more
By Sam (Spring, TX) · ★★★★☆ · May 12, 2013
Prepare yourself for a world in which boy "oafs" keep "mans" as pets, a world in which a lucky male or female man is allowed to actually live in the same house as their oaf owner, and in which unlucky mans are often consumed as part of a normal, everyday meal. Now you are ready for Preston Allen'... ...more
By Rudi (The United States) · ★★★☆☆ · February 16, 2015
Ok, this is like a 2.5. I picked this book up randomly at the library because the title sounded interesting. It was a completely different book than I expected it to be. I liked the first half of the book. I really liked it, actually. I thought it was a clever idea and the allegory was meaningful... ...more
By Nancy (Upper Darby, PA) · ★★★☆☆ · February 15, 2015
An odd little book for science fi readers, fractured fairy tale lovers and dystopian aficionados. The apocrypha doesn't particularly add anything, and the metaphor runs a little thin at times, but it isn't a major timer commitment and it is an easy read. ...more