SCOTT STAMBACH received his Bachelor Degrees in Physics and Philosophy from SUNY Buffalo, as well a Master’s Degree in Physics from UC San Diego. Currently, he teaches mathematics and physics at San Diego City College, and High Tech High, an innovative project-based charter school. At night he balances all this left-brain activity with a dedicated writing regimen, which has earned him publications in a dozen literary magazines including The Writing Disorder, Stirring, and Ecclectica. When the gluttony of teaching and writing force Scott out of the house, you can find him surfing the beaches of Southern California.




A Novel

St. Martin’s Press – August 9, 2016

Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko is a life-long resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. Born deformed, yet mentally keen with a frighteningly sharp wit, strong intellect, and a voracious appetite for books, Ivan is forced to interact with the world through the vivid prism of his mind. For the most part, every day is exactly the same for Ivan, which is why he turns everything into a game, manipulating people and events around him for his own amusement. That is until a new resident named Polina arrives at the hospital. At first, Ivan resents Polina. She steals his books. She challenges his routine. The nurses like her. She is exquisite. But soon, he cannot help being drawn to her and the two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of. Before, he survived by being utterly detached from things and people. Now, Ivan wants something more: Ivan wants Polina to live.


2017 Alex Award Winner
Indie Next Pick
Goodreads Best Books of the Month – August 2016
A BookPage’s Top 50 Books of 2016

“Compelling, intelligent and moving. The love story is executed with unflinching honesty and dark humor. A masterful novel.”―Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko is comic and staggeringly tragic, often both in a single sentence… Ivan Isaenko is one of the most surprising narrators I have encountered―witty, adolescent, well-read, at times quite vulgar, and confined to a life that seems nearly unlivable, until he discovers that even at Mazyr Hospital, love is possible. A grittier, Eastern European, more grown-up The Fault in Our Stars.“―Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“An extraordinarily brave and original debut. Ivan is an unforgettable narrator, and his story ripples with intelligence, humor, heartbreak, and humanity.“―Carolina De Robertis, author of The Gods of Tango

“Only a writer with considerable heart and imagination could transform a hospital for post-Chernobyl fallout kids into a captivating, complex, nearly magical world. Scott Stambach has done exactly that. And in the character of Ivan Isaenko he has created an irresistible narrator, just what one would hope for in a seventeen-year-old raised on Nabokov and Dostoyevsky: by equal measures self-aware, hilarious, quick-witted, and profane. He is an original in every sense of the word, and his story is a marvelous one.”―Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, National Book Award Finalist and author of Madeleine Is Sleeping

“It would be an easy injustice to spackle Ivan Isaenko with a bunch of clichéd praise: hilarious, poignant, heart-warming, heart-wrenching. While these are true, Ivan is so much more. It’s an enchantingly acerbic and endearingly charming story about love, hope and humanity in the face of death; truly a tender and thoughtful reflection on our universal malady.”―Bradley Somer, author of Fishbowl

Ivan Isaenko is a beautiful, heartbreaking, and hilarious novel whose closest literary relative might be One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…A highbrow literary comic book of a novel that will appeal to any reader with a beating heart – a true gem.”―Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs

“An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut.”—Kirkus, starred review


Jessica SpiveyS