Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Exclusive

Munmun excerpt: Jesse Andrews tackles large and small inequalities in new novel

EW has a first look at the ‘Me & Earl & the Dying Girl’ author’s latest

Posted on

Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Jesse Andrews, author of the popular young-adult books Me & Earl & the Dying Girl and The Haters, is returning with an ambitious new novel.

Set in an alternate reality wherein every person’s physical size is directly proportional to their wealth, Munmun tells the story of a pair of siblings who are “littlepoor”: people who face physical dangers (like being mauled by cats) that the rich don’t have to think twice about. It’s an alternately pointed, amusing, and emotional exploration of inequality.

Munmun happened because the human world’s dizzying inequality — of wealth and of power — had begun to send me over the edge, and I had to write something to try to help myself understand it a little better,” Andrews tells EW. “So it might seem like a big departure from my other two books. But like those books, it’s really just a kid showing you the world as he sees it, with all the honesty and humor that he’s got.”

EW can exclusively reveal an excerpt from Munmun, which is due for an April release, as well as the book’s official cover. Says Andrews of the cover, “Creative director Chad Beckerman and the Abrams team have given Munmun a typically fantastic cover — enjoyable to look at while also confrontationally weird, in a way that I think matches the story inside.”

See the cover and read the excerpt below.

Excerpt from ‘Munmun,’ by Jesse Andrews

Being littlepoor is notsogood.

I know I know, you think you know this already, howabout I just tell you though.

I want to see if this makes you laugh. A middlerich kid stepped on our house and crushed my dad to death. Then that same year a cat attacked my mom at the dump and snapped her spine. Okay there. That’s it. Did you blurt a little giggly laugh? No you didn’t, okay good, ofcourse thanks for not laughing, sorry for being the Laugh Police. That story to me is just not super funny. But to other people, a littlebit funny. Mostly these are the people too big to worry about getting stomped, squashed, catcrippled, sewerdrowned, mudburied, any of your classic littlepoor terrors.

We were as littlepoor as you can get, a tenth of middlescale, about as big as rats. We preferred to say squirrels, because a squirrel is a little bigger and ofcourse less disgusting. But squirrels are more like eighthscale and we were tenthscale, littler than squirrels, more exactly the size of average rats. We lived in the beachy capital of Lossy Indica, down in an alleyway near the docks. Our house was a onestory block of twinedtogether milkcrates, roofs and walls of smasheddown tincans, everynight the stovesmoke tickled our lungs and avored our skin.

So this middlerich kid who killed my dad, he was named Jasper, I would say he was doublescale, so he outscaled us by twenty, maybe twentytwo. His class was in the middle of a Let’s See The Middledocks fieldtrip, and he was in the situation of getting bullied and shoved by some other bigger middleriches. They chased him into the alley and gave him a shove and his balance was bad and he planted a foot right through our roof and it snapped the plastic milkcrate gridding and smashed my dad almost immediately to death, not rightaway immediately though. I was screaming and trying to stop the blood from blopping out where the shardy plastic forked him, and he was staring at me and he tried to say a few things. But ofcourse his lungs were smashed in, so, no capability to push air out of there for talking with, and prettyquick he was dead.

This kid Jasper felt terrible obviously. And also the kids who were bullying him. I mean the bullies got out of there pretty fast, mumbling muttering and skulking away all sulky and ashamed. Jasper stuck around crying for a while, then suddenly he ran away too, like, hey, I just realized I don’t have to stay here either, whatarelief.

Sometimes with accident killings, bigs and bigger middles feel so much guilt they’ll pay you some munmuns of Now I Can Feel Less Bad About This. But nosuchluck for us, when we found Jasper’s parents in Dreamworld they refused to pay us anything, because was it really poor little Jasper’s fault that some bullies shoved him into stepping on our house?, look at this shaky blubberer, he’s completely traumatized, infact if anything he’s a victim here too.

I thought about asking, is it possible Jasper was being such a piece of crap that he deserved to get bullied into stepping on a house, therefore actually it kind of was his fault, but probably that wasn’t true, anyway you weren’t talking his parents into that.

And so the next night in Dreamworld we tracked down the bullies’ parents but ofcourse they got huffy and puffy and thought it was crazy we would even ask for munmun, look, sorryforyourloss but was it our kid’s foot who smashed through your roof and killed your dad, I mean do you really think it’s fair that we give up munmuns and scale down over something like that?, you seriously do?, well, I guess you can think what you want, but unless you want to throw munmuns away on a lawyer for Accident Court, please don’t contact us anymore, again obviously though we are super sorryforyourloss.

So we got no munmun and stayed littlepoor, but now with no dad and a busted house, and so my mom and my sis Prayer and me moved into a crowded publicgarden of littlepoors up the coast in a donated or abandoned Yewess Coastguard beachhouse, mostly wrecked families and orphans all trying to look out for each other and not get robbed or flooded or attacked by rats.