The Burgess Boys:From thePulitzer Prize-winning authorof Olive Kitteridge
A stunning story about the tragedies and triumphs of two brothers, from the bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge. Exploring the ties that bind us to family and home, this novel will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page.
‘This is as much a state-of-the-nation novel as one of small-town life. Elizabeth Strout has written a novel that makes you feel: this is what it's like to be alive.’Sunday Times
Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown for New York as soon as they could. Jim, a successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, something that Bob, a legal aid attorney who idolises Jim, has always taken in his stride.
But when their sister desperately calls them back home to Shirley Falls to help her teenage son out of trouble, long-buried tensions begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.
Praise for Elizabeth Strout
‘Astonishingly good’ Evening Standard
'So good it gave me goosebumps.’Sunday Times
‘Strout animates the ordinary with astonishing force.’ The New Yorker
'A superbly gifted storyteller and a craftswoman in a league of her own.' Hilary Mantel
'Strout's prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.' The New Yorker
Strout's follow-up to her 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner Olive Kitteridge links a trio of middle-aged siblings with a group of Somali immigrants in a familiar story about isolation within families and communities. The Burgesses have troubles both public and secret: sour, divorced Susan, who stayed in the family's hometown of Shirley Falls, Maine, with her teenage son Zachary; big-hearted Bob, who feels guilty about their father's fatal car accident; and celebrity defense lawyer Jim, who moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. When Zachary hurls a bloody pig's head into a Somali mosque during Ramadan, fragile connections between siblings, the Somalis, and other Shirley Falls residents are tested. Jim's bullish meddling into Zach's trial hurts rather than helps, and Susan's inability to act without her brothers' advice cements her role as the weakest link (and least interesting character). Finally, when Jim's neurotic wife, Helen, witnesses the depth of her husband's indifference and Bob's ex-wife, Pam, finds the security of her new life in Manhattan tested by nostalgia for Shirley Falls, Zach's fate and that of the Somalis becomes an unfortunate afterthought. Strout excels in constructing an intricate web of circuitous family drama, which makes for a powerful story, but the familiarity of the novel's questions and a miraculously disentangled denouement drain the story of depth.