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Evanston author Tom Burke will launch his book, “Eastbound Into the Cosmos” at 6 p.m. on April 18 at Bookends & Beginnings, 1712 Sherman Ave.

Mr. Burke grew up in Evanston and returned a few years ago to work at Northwestern University, where he serves as director of Kaplan Humanities Institute. Ten years in the making, “Eastbound Into the Cosmos” takes place “in an unnamed Chicago suburb (with some similarities to Evanston, I’d say),” Mr. Burke said, adding, “It’s a contemporary realist novel, a dark comedy.”

Sam Lipsyte, author of “Hark,” praised the novel:

‘Eastbound into the Cosmos’ is a big-hearted and funny novel about youthful folly, youthful grief, and the intricacies of an international mushroom-smuggling business, among many other intriguing things. Thomas Burke has fashioned a winning narrator in Everett: witty, self-deprecating, honest, and always searching the darkness for human wisdom. And you never know where you’ll find it.”

Jeffery Renard Allen, author of the novels “Song of the Shank” and “Rails Under My Back” writes, “Thomas Burke’s splendid new novel is at once a darkly comic international caper and a remarkable investigation of grief and spiritual longing. In these pages you’ll encounter a delightfully loathsome guru, a recently deceased father, a persecuted cult-like sect, and a profoundly misguided mushroom-selling venture.

“Do yourself a favor and dive in.”