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May We Be Forgivenby A. M. Homes
2013 Women's Prize for Fiction Winner
Harry Silver commits a sin that will forever change his life, and no amount of foresight could have prepared him for what follows. Harry's brother, George, is suddenly out of the picture, and Harry is left with George's house, his two children, his pets, and all of George's many problems. Harry soon finds himself sucked into Internet "dating," trouble at work, a medical crisis, and a looming divorce. Yet, on this slippery slope, Harry somehow manages to latch onto the one thing that will give his new life meaning: his niece and nephew. As much as you want to dislike Harry — and believe me, you do — he grows in such a way that it's impossible to do so. Homes showcases her brilliant ability to crawl inside a character and share every tiny nuance and quirk. Harry's long climb out of the morass he's created, into redemption, is lovely to watch. Homes throws in a hefty dose of heart and a ton of absurdist humor, along with her slightly skewed commentary on modern life, making May We Be Forgiven an odd mix of hilarity and poignant sweetness.
Synopses & Reviews
A darkly comic novel of twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation.
Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control the result is an act of violence so shocking that both brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.
Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother’s two adolescent children, tumbling down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. As Harry builds a twenty-first-century family created by choice rather than biology, we become all the more aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and either compel us to repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.
May We Be Forgiven is an unnerving, funny tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.
"It's difficult to keep track of the number of awful things that happen to Harold Silver in the first 100 pages of Homes's plodding latest novel. It is equally difficult to care that these things happen to him. Harold's brother, whose anger problem is alluded to but never explicitly mentioned, goes crazy and murders his wife, among other acts of cruelty. In the wake of this tragedy, Harold is made legal guardian of his brother's children. Harold's life continues to unravel as he gets a divorce, loses his job, begins online dating, and endures many other crises that require intense self-reflection. Harold eventually triumphs over his various problems, evolving into the loving, supportive, and thoughtful man he's never been, but the process feels forced, implausible, and overwrought. While Homes (The Mistress's Daughter) successfully creates a convincing male protagonist, everything else about Harold's story fails to persuade. If the reader was given a better sense of who Harold was before his life fell apart, we might be more invested in who he later becomes. The novel suffers from Homes's insistence on having Harold's life continually move from bad to worse, forgetting that sometimes less is more. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wiley Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"This novel starts at maximum force — and then it really gets going. I can't remember when I last read a novel of such narrative intensity; an unflinching account of a catastrophic, violent, black-comic, transformative year in the history of one broken American family. Flat-out amazing." Salman Rushdie
"I started this book in the A.M., finished in the P.M., and couldn’t sleep all night. Ms. Homes just gets better and better." Gary Shteyngart
"What if whoever wrote the story of Job had a sense of humor? Nixon is pondered. One character donates her organs. Another tries to grow a heart. A seductive minefield of a novel from A.M. Homes." John Sayles
"I started reading A.M. Homes twenty years ago. Wild and funny, questioning and true, she is a writer to go traveling with on the journey called life." Jeanette Winterson
A big American story with big American themes” (Elle) from the author of the New York Timesbestselling memoir The Mistresss Daughter
In this vivid, transfixing new novel, A. M. Homes presents a darkly comic look at twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal transformation. Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his more successful younger brother, George, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. When Georges murderous temper results in a shocking act of violence, both men are hurled into entirely new lives. May We Be Forgiven digs deeply into the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. It is an unnerving tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.
Since her debut in 1989, A. M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years. This Book Will Save Your Life is a vivid, uplifting, and revealing story about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you.
About the Author
A. M. Homes is the author of the memoir The Mistress’s Daughter and the novels This Book Will Save Your Life, Music for Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the story collections The Safety of Objects and Things You Should Know. She lives in New York City.
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