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Angela's Ashesby Frank Mccourt
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography/Autobiography
Synopses & Reviews
“When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”
So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank’s survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig’s head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors—yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.
Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with Frank McCourt’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic.
"A classic modern memoir...stunning." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Every once in a while, a lucky reader comes across a book that makes an indelible impression, a book you immediately want to share with everyone around you....Frank McCourt's life, and his searing telling of it, reveal all we need to know about being human." Linnea Lannon, Detroit Free Press
"A spellbinding memoir of childhood that swerves flawlessly between aching sadness and desperate humor...a work of lasting beauty." Peter Finn, Philadelphia Inquirer
"It is a wonder that McCourt survived his childhood in the slums of Depression-era Limerick, Ireland: three of his siblings did not, dying of minor illnesses complicated by near starvation. Even more astonishing is how generous of spirit he became and remains." Patricia Monaghan, Booklist
"A powerful, exquisitely written debut... An extraordinary work in every way. McCourt magically retrieves love, dignity, and humor from a childhood of hunger, loss, and pain." Kirkus Reviews
"The power of this memoir is that it makes you believe the claim: that despite the rags and hunger and pain, love and strength do come out of misery — as well as a page-turner of a book. And though the experience it tells of was individual, the point — and the story — is universal." Vanessa V. Friedman, Entertainment Weekly
"It is only the best storyteller who can so beguile his readers that he leaves them wanting more when he's done. With Angela's Ashes, McCourt proves himself one of the very best." Malcolm Jones, Newsweek
"This memoir is an instant classic of the genre...good enough to be the capstone of a distinguished writing career; let's hope it's only the beginning of Frank McCourt's." Nina King, The Washington Post Book World
"What is it that transforms a childhood blighted by poverty, death and disease into a story that shines with love and leaps off the page in language of rare energy, music and humor? In the case of Angela's Ashes, I think it must be Frank McCourt's soul. This memoir is the best I've read in years, and I'm putting it on the small shelf in the company of the few books I don't lend — lest they're gone when I want them again." Kathryn Harrison
"Frank McCourt's lyrical Irish voice will draw comparisons to Joyce. It's that seductive, that hilarious." Mary Karr
"Frank McCourt has examined his ferocious childhood, walked around it, relived it, and with skill and care and generosity of heart, has transformed it into a triumphant work of art. This book will be read when all of us are gone." Pete Hamill, Irish American Magazine
Angela’s Ashes, imbued on every page with the author’s astounding humor and compassion, is a glorious book that bears all the marks of a classic. “Frank McCourt’s life, and his searing telling of it, reveals all we need to know about being human” (The Detroit Free Press).
About the Author
Frank McCourt (1930-2009) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Irish immigrant parents, grew up in Limerick, Ireland, and returned to America in 1949. For thirty years he taught in New York City high schools. His first book, Angela's Ashes, won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the L.A. Times Book Award. In 2006, he won the prestigious Ellis Island Family Heritage Award for Exemplary Service in the Field of the Arts and the United Federation of Teachers John Dewey Award for Excellence in Education.
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