THE GHOST APPLE is set on the New Hampshire campus of Tripoli College—an institution that, beset by financial problems, has entered into a coercive agreement with a corrupt “food services” corporation called Big Anna. Big Anna deposes the college’s president and installs a tyrant who contrives to enslave study-abroad students on a sugar plantation on St. Renard, an island in the Caribbean.

Departing from straightforward narrative, Thier’s satire develops through a varied and colorful collection of documents, including tourism pamphlets, course catalogs, slave narratives, and historical letters. Like David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, this funny, provocative novel slyly uncovers the omnipresence of past deeds, and is a biting reminder that history often repeats itself in unexpected and unsettling ways.

Aaron Thier is a regular contributor to The Nation. He and David Leavitt co-edited an anthology, 24 Great Stories.