Man, Underground

Regal House Titles
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When the city initiates a property review of a recluse’s subterranean home, his life is further interrupted by a seventeen-year-old punk-inspired Honor’s student intent on defending him. Like the stranger she targets for her assistance, Monika is accustomed to being ostracized by those who make assumptions about her. Intent on diverting people’s attention from “Mr. Underground Man,” she initiates a campaign of “diversionary tactics”—with unexpected consequences. A fast-paced dark comedy, Man, Underground will leave readers contemplating the disruptions and the potential transformative power found in random acts of kindness.

Praise for Man, Underground

With Man, Underground, Mark Hummel has crafted a novel of rare insight. It is sincere but never sentimental, life-affirming yet clear-eyed, and timely while possessing a timeless wisdom. Oh, and it tells a great story, too, equal parts rollicking caper and dark night of the soul. A worthy addition to the canon of misfit lit!

— Luke Geddes, author of Heart of Junk

Mark Hummel has certainly written a novel for our time. Man, Underground depicts isolation that seems endless, hopeless as lockdown. And yet, when Hummel’s narrator “Mr. Badger,” and his neighbor Monika find each other, their worlds begin to open, to soften. From the very first pages, I was drawn into the story through its sparkling, muscular dialogue, and then lured on by a series of plot moves both arresting and entirely plausible. This truly wonderful novel reminded me that grief met with patience and the willingness to listen can be grief gently and incrementally eased.

— Liza Wieland, author of Paris, 7 A.M. and Land of Enchantment

A dark, comedic parable of resilience and camaraderie between a reclusive man who finds solace in an unconventional home and an audacious teenager who inserts herself into his hidden world. An unlikely bond forms, unearthing laughter, comfort, and a captivating journey that defies societal norms. I was hooked from the first page.

— Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy

I like my fiction inspiring, passionate, big-hearted, and laugh-out-loud funny – and if you get me there through tragedy, then my hat stays off for you. Mark Hummel achieves all of this in his subtly elegant, gently intellectual, moving story of the friendship between a man with a broken spirit and a teenager with a soaring one. Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

— Laura McBride, author of We Are Called to Rise

Funny, tender, and shimmering with optimism, Man, Underground asks: "What if we were all just a little kinder? A little more understanding?" It's a delightful, heartwarming story of an unexpected friendship that leaves the reader with hope. I look forward to what Hummel does next.                          

— Meagan Lucas, award-winning author of Songbirds and Stray Dogs and Here in the Dark

Mark Hummel’s animated descriptions, knockout dialogue, laugh-out-loud wit, and narrative momentum create a story relevant to everyone. In his canny and compassionate prose, Mr. Hummel lets us know that we are all bewildered and vulnerable, that fate comes for every one of us, and it is only by relating to each another that we can heal our communities and maybe the world. Delicious wit and tender observations combine to tell the story of a lonely man and his quest for reason. This is Mark Hummel at the top of his game.

— Jean Ryan, author of Survival Skills and Lost Sister

Man, Underground presents an astute, equally comical and terrifying portrait of modern society, described by a narrator who has removed himself from most human interaction. Hidden In his surprisingly well-equipped subterranean fortress, the narrator has become an “other” in a city that values conformity. When his peculiar lifestyle triggers a property review, a talented, quirky teenager named Monika launches a funny, ill-advised diversionary campaign. Author Mark Hummel brilliantly draws the reader deeper and deeper into the narrator’s life, peeling each layer to challenge our assumptions about “others.” Hummel’s descriptive, deeply engaging prose is surgically precise and insightful, revealing the beauty and heartbreak of our shared human experience, and the redemptive power of unlikely friendships.

— Ginger Pinholster, author of Snakes of St. Augustine and City in a Forest

Using sharp dialog and exquisite prose, Man Underground takes the reader on a comedy/tragic journey through a learned man’s existential crisis and a precocious adolescent’s coming of age. Think Lolita, but with Humbert Humbert as an erudite, reclusive, curmudgeonly gentleman, and Lolita as a wisecracking, teenage Mensa. Every Hollywood screenwriter should study Mark Hummel’s dialog. He’s a genuine master.

— James A. Ross, author of Hunting Teddy Roosevelt.