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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The New Yorker • Esquire • The Austin Chronicle • Kansas City Star • The Guardian (UK) • BookPage • Flavorwire • Bookish
“[A] big, brilliant novel.”—The New York Times Book Review
Who is A. N. Dyer? & Sons is a literary masterwork for readers of The Art of Fielding, The Emperor’s Children, and Wonder Boys—the panoramic, deeply affecting story of an iconic novelist, two interconnected families, and the heartbreaking truths that fiction can hide.
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The funeral of Charles Henry Topping on Manhattan’s Upper East Side would have been a minor affair (his two-hundred-word obit in The New York Times notwithstanding) but for the presence of one particular mourner: the notoriously reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic of American teenage angst. But as Andrew Newbold Dyer delivers the eulogy for his oldest friend, he suffers a breakdown over the life he’s led and the people he’s hurt and the novel that will forever endure as his legacy. He must gather his three sons for the first time in many years—before it’s too late.
So begins a wild, transformative, heartbreaking week, as witnessed by Philip Topping, who, like his late father, finds himself caught up in the swirl of the Dyer family. First there’s son Richard, a struggling screenwriter and father, returning from self-imposed exile in California. In the middle lingers Jamie, settled in Brooklyn after his twenty-year mission of making documentaries about human suffering. And last is Andy, the half brother whose mysterious birth tore the Dyers apart seventeen years ago, now in New York on spring break, determined to lose his virginity before returning to the prestigious New England boarding school that inspired Ampersand. But only when the real purpose of this reunion comes to light do these sons realize just how much is at stake, not only for their father but for themselves and three generations of their family.
In this daring feat of fiction, David Gilbert establishes himself as one of our most original, entertaining, and insightful authors. & Sons is that rarest of treasures: a startlingly imaginative novel about families and how they define us, and the choices we make when faced with our own mortality.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE
“Big, brilliant, and terrifically funny.”—Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
“Smart and savage . . . Seductive and ripe with both comedy and heartbreak, [& Sons] made me reconsider my stance on . . . the term ‘instant classic.’”—NPR
“A big, ambitious book about fathers and sons, Oedipal envy and sibling rivalry, and the dynamics between art and life . . . [& Sons] does a wonderful job of conjuring up its characters’ memories . . . in layered, almost Proustian detail.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“[A] smart, engrossing saga . . . Perfect for fans of Jonathan Franzen or Claire Messud.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Audacious . . . [one of the year’s] most dazzlingly smart, fully realized works of fiction.”—The Washington Post
The opening scene of Gilbert s finely textured new novel (after The Normals) isn t supposed to be a puffed-up affair, but it might as well be: A.N. Dyer, one of New York s hermetic literary giants, is scheduled to deliver the eulogy for his childhood friend Charlie Topping. What follows in this grandiose novel full of dissatisfied men and erudite posturing is a vivid and often amusing portrait of the New York s Upper East Side literary scene, as relayed by the dearly departed s son, Philip. Through Philip s idolatrous and therefore unreliable perspective (and in a few interspersed letters between his father and Dyer), the writer s life is exposed, from his foibles to his successes past and present, including the publication of his widely heralded masterpiece, Ampersand; his attempt at renewing ties with his estranged sons, Richard (an ex drug addict and aspiring screenwriter) and Jamie (a burned-out documentary filmmaker); and his fervent preoccupation with ensuring the welfare of a third, much younger son, Andy, who was born out of mysterious circumstances 17 years prior. There s a lot to digest and reflect on in this ambitious and crowded narrative the complicated bond between fathers and sons, the illusive nature of success and the price of fame and the ailing author s angst-ridden waning years are placed in a harsh spotlight. As a counterbalance, Gilbert is at his best when capturing the fearless, testosterone-driven essence of adolescence, as Andy flits from boozing and deflecting empty banter at a swanky book-release party at the Frick, to chasing skirts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to trying to outsmart and outrun his father s ever-persistent legacy.