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The Laments

by

The Laments Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Meet the Laments — the affably dysfunctional globetrotting family at the center of George Hagen's exuberant debut novel.

Howard is an engineer who dreams of irrigating the Sahara and lives by the motto "Laments move!" His wife Julia is a fiery spirit who must balance her husband's oddly peripatetic nature with unexpected aspirations of her own. And Will is the "waif with a paper-thin heart" who is given to Howard and Julia in return for their own child who has been lost in a bizarre maternity ward mishap. As Will makes his way from infancy to manhood in a family that careens from continent to continent, one wonders where the Laments will ever belong. In Bahrain, Howard takes a job with an oil company and young Will makes his first friend. But in short order he is wrenched off to another land, his mother's complicated friendship with the American siren Trixie Howitzer causing the family to bolt. In Northern Rhodesia, during its last days as a white colony, the twin enfants terribles Marcus and Julius are born, and Will falls for the gardener's daughter, a girl so vain that she admires her image in the lid of a biscuit tin. But soon the family's life is upturned again, thie time by their neighbor Major Buck Quinn, with his suburban tirades against black self-rule. Envisioning a more civilized life on "the sceptered isle," the Laments board an ocean liner bound for England. Alas, poor Will is greeted by the tribal ferocity of his schoolmates and a society fixated on the Blitz. No sooner has he succumbed to British pop culture in the guise of mop-top Sally Byrd and her stacks of 45s, than the Laments uproot themselves once again, and it's off to New Jersey, where life deals crisisand opportunity in equal measure.

Undeniably eccentric, the Laments are also universal. Every family moves on in life. Children grow up, things are left behind; there is always something to lament. Through the Lament's restlessness, responses to adversity, and especially their unwieldy love for one another, George Hagen gives us a portrait of every family that is funny, tragic, and improbably true.

Review:

"A vital international journey through the vicissitudes of family life. This story, centering on the timeless theme of a child swapped at birth, is immensely readable, funny, and touching — a complete joy." Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle

Review:

"George Hagen's highly entertaining debut novel features an irresistibly headstrong family, a global sweep, and not only a sense of loss and displacement that's perfectly in tune with the world we live in but also a full measure of resilient humanity." Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook

Review:

"There is an admirable and enviable range and ambition in The Laments, and something lucidly democratic in the novel's insistence that a wandering life grants perspectives and perceptions that stay-at-homes can't achieve." New York Times

Review:

"[T]he writing in The Laments is sprightly and Hagen's observations often tart, and the book has the playfulness of a prank pulled by its twins, Julius and Marcus." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"The Laments is a fine novel, about family, migration, identity, and the struggle to find and hold on to it. It is also hugely entertaining and very, very funny." Roddy Doyle, author of The Barrytown Trilogy

Synopsis:

Meet the Laments—the affably dysfunctional globetrotting family at the center of George Hagens exuberant debut novel.

Howard is an engineer who dreams of irrigating the Sahara and lives by the motto “Laments move!” His wife Julia is a fiery spirit who must balance her husbands oddly peripatetic nature with unexpected aspirations of her own. And Will is the “waif with a paper-thin heart” who is given to Howard and Julia in return for their own child who has been lost in a bizarre maternity ward mishap. As Will makes his way from infancy to manhood in a family that careens from continent to continent, one wonders where the Laments will ever belong.

In Bahrain, Howard takes a job with an oil company and young Will makes his first friend. But in short order he is wrenched off to another land, his mothers complicated friendship with the American siren Trixie Howitzer causing the family to bolt. In Northern Rhodesia, during its last days as a white colony, the twin enfants terribles Marcus and Julius are born, and Will falls for the gardeners daughter, a girl so vain that she admires her image in the lid of a biscuit tin. But soon the familys life is upturned again, thie time by their neighbor Major Buck Quinn, with his suburban tirades against black self-rule. Envisioning a more civilized life on “the sceptered isle,” the Laments board an ocean liner bound for England. Alas, poor Will is greeted by the tribal ferocity of his schoolmates and a society fixated on the Blitz. No sooner has he succumbed to British pop culture in the guise of mop-top Sally Byrd and her stacks of 45s, than the Laments uproot themselves once again, and its off to New Jersey, where life deals crisis and opportunity in equal measure.

Undeniably eccentric, the Laments are also universal. Every family moves on in life. Children grow up, things are left behind; there is always something to lament. Through the Laments restlessness, responses to adversity, and especially their unwieldy love for one another, George Hagen gives us a portrait of every family that is funny, tragic, and improbably true.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

George Hagen had lived on three continents by the time he was twelve. The Laments is his first novel. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780812972184
Author:
Hagen, George
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Subject:
General
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Identity (psychology)
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20050731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.00x5.30x.94 in. .63 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

The Laments Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.50 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812972184 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A vital international journey through the vicissitudes of family life. This story, centering on the timeless theme of a child swapped at birth, is immensely readable, funny, and touching — a complete joy."
"Review" by , "George Hagen's highly entertaining debut novel features an irresistibly headstrong family, a global sweep, and not only a sense of loss and displacement that's perfectly in tune with the world we live in but also a full measure of resilient humanity."
"Review" by , "There is an admirable and enviable range and ambition in The Laments, and something lucidly democratic in the novel's insistence that a wandering life grants perspectives and perceptions that stay-at-homes can't achieve."
"Review" by , "[T]he writing in The Laments is sprightly and Hagen's observations often tart, and the book has the playfulness of a prank pulled by its twins, Julius and Marcus."
"Review" by , "The Laments is a fine novel, about family, migration, identity, and the struggle to find and hold on to it. It is also hugely entertaining and very, very funny."
"Synopsis" by , Meet the Laments—the affably dysfunctional globetrotting family at the center of George Hagens exuberant debut novel.

Howard is an engineer who dreams of irrigating the Sahara and lives by the motto “Laments move!” His wife Julia is a fiery spirit who must balance her husbands oddly peripatetic nature with unexpected aspirations of her own. And Will is the “waif with a paper-thin heart” who is given to Howard and Julia in return for their own child who has been lost in a bizarre maternity ward mishap. As Will makes his way from infancy to manhood in a family that careens from continent to continent, one wonders where the Laments will ever belong.

In Bahrain, Howard takes a job with an oil company and young Will makes his first friend. But in short order he is wrenched off to another land, his mothers complicated friendship with the American siren Trixie Howitzer causing the family to bolt. In Northern Rhodesia, during its last days as a white colony, the twin enfants terribles Marcus and Julius are born, and Will falls for the gardeners daughter, a girl so vain that she admires her image in the lid of a biscuit tin. But soon the familys life is upturned again, thie time by their neighbor Major Buck Quinn, with his suburban tirades against black self-rule. Envisioning a more civilized life on “the sceptered isle,” the Laments board an ocean liner bound for England. Alas, poor Will is greeted by the tribal ferocity of his schoolmates and a society fixated on the Blitz. No sooner has he succumbed to British pop culture in the guise of mop-top Sally Byrd and her stacks of 45s, than the Laments uproot themselves once again, and its off to New Jersey, where life deals crisis and opportunity in equal measure.

Undeniably eccentric, the Laments are also universal. Every family moves on in life. Children grow up, things are left behind; there is always something to lament. Through the Laments restlessness, responses to adversity, and especially their unwieldy love for one another, George Hagen gives us a portrait of every family that is funny, tragic, and improbably true.

From the Hardcover edition.

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