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When PhD candidate Glen Harrison proposes researching the origins of the earliest known tarot cards, the Visconti-Sforza deck, for his thesis, his art history professors are dubious. As he struggles to find a convincing argument, one of the cards yields a surprising clue. It is the first in a series of seemingly chance encounters and random finds that takes him down a new and terrifying path, which leads from the safety of the museums and libraries of pre-9/11 New York to the most hidden reaches of West Africa, where a mystery as dark and ancient as the cards themselves unfurls. The beautifully painted Visconti-Sforza cards, commissioned by Italian nobility, were originally secular, private art reserved for the elite. Centuries later, however, tarot cards have come to be associated with telling fortunes. Esoteric nonsense? Or are the cards capable of predicting and changing their reader’s life? Through the intimate journal entries of Glen, The Hanged Man explores the fine line that separates life from art, truth from fantasy, sanity from madness.

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