Who is A. N. Dyer? For fans of ‘The Art of Fielding’ and ‘Wonder Boys’ – this is the panoramic, deeply affecting story of an iconic novelist and the heartbreaking truths that fiction can hide.
The Manhattan funeral of Charles Henry Topping would have been a minor affair but for the identity of the eulogist: reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel ‘Ampersand’ stands as a classic of teenage angst. Now Andrew Newbold Dyer takes stock of his own life, the people he’s hurt and the novel that will endure as his legacy. He realises he must reunite with his three sons before it’s too late.
Eldest son Richard is a screenwriter in Californian exile. In the middle is Jamie, who has spent his life capturing the sorrow that surrounds him. And last is Andy, now a pupil at the boarding school that inspired ‘Ampersand’. It is only when the hidden purpose of the reunion comes to light do the sons realise what’s at stake – for their father, themselves and three generations of Dyers.
Daring, entertaining and insightful, ‘& Sons’ establishes David Gilbert as a writer to be treasured.
‘Richly entertaining … beautifully realised and very funny … A book [which] has the rare quality of being funny without being silly, serious without being solemn, and powerfully moving without being either sentimental or coercive’ Guardian
‘This is a magisterial novel, complex, sophisticated, filled with literary play … Impressive stuff from a serious talent’ Daily Mail
‘A sprawling family saga of moneyed New York, written in highly wrought prose replete with Updikean flourishes. We immediately identify Gilbert with Franzen and his realist forebears … There is much to admire in “& Sons”, it is ambitious and often beautiful’ Observer
‘Hugely energetic … engrossing and superbly done … His novel’s 400-plus pages zip by in a rush of accessible, highbrowish pleasure … [An] intelligent, enthralling novel’ Sunday Times
‘I was floored by the sparkle and brilliance … superbly written, wonderfully entertaining and often outrageously funny’ Times
‘[An] elegant, witty second novel … Gilbert’s stylistic gifts are beyond question, and the novel is rich in well-turned phrases … The novel is also very funny … At the heart of the book is a reunion of the Dyers, a scene as closely observed as anything in Jonathan Franzen’s “The Corrections” … This is a terrific social comedy’ Sunday Telegraph, Seven
‘A singularly brilliant novel … [which] marks David Gilbert out as a writer of exceptional talent’ Literary Review
‘A breathtaking work of a sweep that we rarely see over here tackling themes at the very heart of existence itself … a tour de force … This is a huge new talent on the scene. Greatness awaits’ Sunday Express
About the author
David Gilbert is the author of the short-story collection ‘Remote Feed’ and the novel ‘The Normals’. His stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, GQ and Bomb. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.
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.