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Michael Tolkin

Official Website of Award-Winning American Filmmaker & Novelist


With The Player and The Return of the Player, Michael Tolkin established himself as the master novelist of modern Hollywood. In his new novel, NK3, the H LYW OD sign presides over a Los Angeles devastated by a weaponized microbe that has been accidentally spread around the globe, deleting human identity.

In post-NK3 Los Angeles, a sixty-foot-tall fence surrounds the hills where the rich used to live, but the mansions have been taken over by those with the only power that matters: the power of memory. Life for the community inside the Fence, ruled over by the new aristocracy, the Verified, is a perpetual party. Outside the Fence, in downtown Los Angeles, the Verified use an invented mythology to keep control over the mindless and nameless Drifters, Shamblers, and Bottle Bangers who serve the gift economy until no longer needed. The ruler, Chief, takes his guidance from gigantic effigies of a man and a woman in the heart of the Fence.
They warn him of trouble to come, but who is the person to watch: the elusive Eckmann, holed up with the last functioning plane at LAX; Shannon Squier, the chisel-wielding pop superstar from the pre-NK3 world, pulled from the shambling masses; a treacherous member of Chief’s inner circle; or Hopper, the uncommon Drifter compelled by an inner voice to search for a wife whose name and face he doesn’t know? Each threatens to upset the delicate power balance in this fragile world. 


In deliciously dark prose, Tolkin winds a noose-like plot around this melee of despots, prophets, and rebels as they struggle for command and survival in a town that still manages to exert a magnetic force, even as a ruined husk.





Abstract Sand


In this brave, brilliant and barely speculative novel, the population of Greater Los Angeles is wracked with varying degrees of amnesia, the social order is switched to favor those with technical skill, and expendable Drifters and Shamblers are dumped in the desert to die a ‘gentler’ death once they’ve outlived their usefulness. Part cartoon and part allegory, it’s tempting to call NK3 the first book of the Trump era.

Chris Kraus

author of I Love Dick and Summer of Hate

Tolkin’s mad world of imbeciles and cast-offs bears a cruel resemblance to our own, yet he approaches in kindly, with mournful pity. An inspired speculative satire, wickedly stimulating but soulful, too. It got to me, this novel. I just can’t shake it.

Walter Kirn

author of Up in the Air and Blood Will Out

There is an oft quoted line in Milan Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting which proposes that "the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." This is precisely the moral universe that preoccupies NK3. We are in danger of forgetting how to resist. NK3 lives on many levels: as dystopian Los Angeles thriller, as a metaphor for a culture shredding its own relationship to fact and memory, and was razor-wire meditation on the loss of the self—that constantly murmuring life-force tugging us hither and yon from within and ever evading our grasp. As an existentialist horror story, NK3 tautly proposes a future that now, in post-factual America, seems closer than ever. Michael Tolkin’s map of Los Angeles gains more and more detail with each novel, because there is no more modern, chaotic, and beautiful place in which to lose yourself and your history to winds, fires, and opulent decay.

Jon Robin Baitz

author of Other Desert Cities

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In The Press


Michael Tolkin is an award-winning writer, director, and producer. His novels include The Player, The Return of the Player, Among the Dead, and Under Radar. For the film adaptation of The Player, Tolkin won the Writers Guild Award, the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the PEN Center USA West Literary Award, and the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Crime Screenplay. 

Parallel Lines

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