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Bourdain show inspired author to relocate to Budapest to write novel

Inspiration can come from anywhere – just ask Matthew Binder.

The author was living in Albuquerque in 2016 working at a job.

One day, he was watching “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” and the show was chronicling Bourdain’s visit to Budapest, Hungary.

“The next day, I was at a meeting and I knew I wanted to write another book,” he says. “I pulled up the cost-of-living index and found that Budapest was insanely cheap. That day, I dropped in a resignation letter and I left Albuquerque in June 2016. I lived in Budapest for six months.”

During his time there, Binder worked on what has become “The Absolved.”

The novel was released on Dec. 4, and he will have a book signing at Page One Bookstore on Saturday, Dec. 8.

“The Absolved” is set in 2036 and follows Henri, a wealthy physician, husband, father, and serial philanderer. He is also one of the relatively few people to still have jobs. Automation and other technological advances have led to unemployment so severe that many people are no longer expected to work and now known as The Absolved.

Meanwhile, it’s election season, and a candidate from a radical fringe party called The Luddites is calling for an end to the “Divine Rights of Machines.” After Henri is displaced from his job, two Luddite sympathizers – whom Henri has befriended at his local bar – frame him for an anti-technology terrorist act. The prospect of Henri’s salvation comes at the cost of forgoing his guiding principles in life.

“The book actually came from a conversation between my brother and I,” Binder says.

As Binder found his footing in Budapest, he made sure to keep strict hours with writing.

“I would usually be at my desk by 9 a.m.,” he says. “Then I’d work until noon. Then I’d go running, and by the afternoon, I would do a short revision of what I did that day. By the evening, I would already be thinking of what I was going to write the next day.”

Binder says the book took shape in Budapest but was sharpened in New York City, where he now lives.

“I was able to think about the novel all day in Budapest,” he says. “When I got to New York, I was able to pull myself away from it and let it all settle. Then the editing began. I have about 200 pages of notes, and I didn’t work from an outline.”

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