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The World Without You: A Novel Kindle Edition
JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction
From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Matrimony ["Beautiful . . . Brilliant."—Michael Cunningham], a moving, mesmerizing new novel about love, loss, and the aftermath of a family tragedy.
It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.
The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Their forty-year marriage is falling apart. Clarissa, the eldest sibling and a former cello prodigy, has settled into an ambivalent domesticity and is struggling at age thirty-nine to become pregnant. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer and the family contrarian, is angry at everyone. And Noelle, whose teenage years were shadowed by promiscuity and school expulsions, has moved to Jerusalem and become a born-again Orthodox Jew. The last person to see Leo alive, Noelle has flown back for the memorial with her husband and four children, but she feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe —Leo’s widow and mother of their three-year-old son—has come from California bearing her own secret.
Set against the backdrop of Independence Day and the Iraq War, The World Without You is a novel about sibling rivalries and marital feuds, about volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, about the true meaning of family.
“Insightful. . . . Poignant. . . . Elegant.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“A wonderful novel. . . . I just love it.”
—Anne Lamott, The Miami Herald
—O, The Oprah Magazine
“A keenly observed and compassionate novel. . . . Tenderness spills from these pages.”
“[A] densely detailed and touching portrait.”
“[Henkin] grounds his novel in both time and place, creating a living, breathing world. . . . Gorgeously written.”
—The Boston Globe
“Few American novelists, living or dead, have ever been as good as Henkin at drawing people.”
“Intimate and insightful. . . . Reminds us that families are icebergs, with nine-tenths of their emotions just below the surface, capable of wreaking havoc when struck.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Witty, poignant, and heartfelt.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
“In the course of [a] long weekend, old and new tensions . . . bubble to the surface. It could be the plot of a Chekhov play or a Woody Allen movie. But on this classic narrative scaffolding, Joshua Henkin develops a painfully contemporary situation. . . . The skill with which Henkin explores the points of view and personae of his ensemble cast is masterful.”
“Henkin is a writer of voluminous heart, humanity, and talent.”
—Julia Glass, author of The Widower’s Tale
“Masterful . . . . Here are Tanglewood concerts overheard, fireflies, skinny-dipping, an intense tennis game, fireworks, jalapeno-lime corn on the cob and white gazpacho. Henkin gets all the details just right. Think ‘The Big Chill,’ family style.”
—The New York Jewish Week
“Pleasingly old-fashioned. . . . [A] warm-hearted novel.”
—The Washington Post
“A triumph and an important novel about America.”
—Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl
“In 2005, if a novelist had published a book that hinged on the murder of a Jewish American journalist by Islamic terrorists in Iraq, it would have been read as a political novel, a war novel, a post-9/11 novel—and, of course, a roman a clef about Daniel Pearl. . . . Yet the passage of time has made it possible for Henkin to turn this headline-news premise into a book that is quiet, inward-turning, and largely apolitical. . . . Henkin is a novelist of distinguished gifts.”
“An immeasurably moving masterpiece.”
—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers
“Henkin takes no sides in his novel. He simply presents his characters as they are, as they think, as they feel, how they interact and lets it all reveal whatever it may. . . . A novel for mature readers—those who like fiction providing insight into how people actually live.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[Resembles] Richard Ford’s luminescent novel The Sportswriter. . . . Wonderful. . . . Powerful.”
“The American family in crisis has long represented rich source material for writers, from Hawthorne to Morrison. In his deeply felt new novel, Joshua Henkin offers his contemporary contribution. . . . [Characters] leap uncensored off the page as powerful and fully realized human beings, rather than types. . . . Heartfelt.”
—The Miami Herald
“Marvelous on the solitudes that exist even within the strongest and most compassionate of families.”
—Jim Shepard, author of You Think That’s Bad
“Gives us a welcome portrait of the repercussions of faraway wars on people who usually consider themselves to be spectators. . . . Compassionate and beguiling.”
“Point this one out to contemporary fiction fans of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, or the works of Rick Moody, Richard Russo, Philip Roth, and John Updike.”
About the Author
- ASIN : B006Q1SRMA
- Publisher : Vintage (June 19 2012)
- Language : English
- File size : 2604 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 338 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #510,551 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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This novel brought up a lot of emotions for me. Set in 2005, in the midst of the Iraq war, it reminded me of the anger and horror that was commonplace on the nightly news, particularly the murder and televised beheading of an American journalist. Although I am Canadian, those images were so shocking that it made the whole world feel less safe. Plus, this is the third or fourth novel I have read in the past few months that deals with the death or serious illness of a child. As a parent, I'm just not sure how much more I can take of this subject matter. I think after this I'm going to take a break from novels that are about parents losing children. It's just too much heartache for me.
For more reviews, please visit my blog, CozyLittleBookJournal.
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.
Top reviews from other countries
His parents, David and Marilyn, have each dealt with their grief differently--Marilyn has become an outspoken critic of the war and President Bush, while David has become more introspective, preferring opera and biographies to confronting his wife's anger. And this is causing their 40-year marriage to dissolve. Leo's oldest sister, Clarissa, is struggling to become pregnant at age 39, which is wreaking havoc on her relationship with her husband, Nathan. Lily is dealing with an inability to effectively deal with her grief and anger, and doesn't want to have to depend on anyone for help, not even her boyfriend of 10 years. And Noelle went from a youth spent mired in promiscuity to a life in Israel, where she and her husband, Amram, are Orthodox Jews raising four boys. Leo's widow, Thisbe, also flies in from California with their three-year-old son, Calder, and she is dealing with secrets of her own, as well as the struggle to keep Calder from forgetting a father he barely knew. As the family gathers, they deal with their own issues and rehash old hurts, and wonder where the future will find them.
When I read Joshua Henkin's novel Matrimony a few years ago, I fell in love with it completely, and I couldn't wait for him to write another book. The World Without You hooked me immediately, and if it wasn't for the obligations of work, exercise, and sleep, I would have finished the book in a day or two. Yes, this is a familiar story of family frictions and relationship issues, but the characters Henkin creates, and his terrific storytelling ability, raises the book several notches above your typical family drama. This book deals with questions of family, loss, communication, trust, dependency, anger, and need, and it does so quite skillfully. I don't want to have to wait another few years for Joshua Henkin's next book, but since he's such a great writer, I know it will be worth the wait! (That being said, I just ordered his first novel, Swimming Across the Hudson, off of Amazon.)
A stunning announcement is made by the mother at the dinner table, obviously adding great impact to an already grief laden family.
Females play the most dominant part of the plot, although, males in attendance come forth now and then.
As you would expect, considerable time is spent in member's recalling the life of their beloved brother, son, husband as well as the dynamics of their own families.
The end holds some unexpected happenings and some sadness continues, although, all of the members have survived in unexpected ways and with renewed strength.
While I enjoyed it, it was not a page turner and took some time for me to complete it. Nonetheless a good summer read.