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You Are Not a Stranger Hereby Adam Haslett
Finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, Fiction
Winner of the 2002 L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award
Synopses & Reviews
In his bestselling and lavishly praised first book of stories, Adam Haslett explores lives that appear shuttered by loss and discovers entire worlds hidden inside them. The impact is at once harrowing and thrilling.
An elderly inventor, burning with manic creativity, tries to reconcile with his estranged gay son. A bereaved boy draws a thuggish classmate into a relationship of escalating guilt and violence. A genteel middle-aged woman, a long-time resident of a psychiatric hospital, becomes the confidante of a lovelorn teenaged volunteer. Told with Chekhovian restraint and compassion, and conveying both the sorrow of life and the courage with which people rise to meet it, You Are Not a Stranger Here is a triumph of storytelling.
"[A] very impressive debut. Haslett is an expert storyteller, who draws the reader in with his compassion, then methodically unravels unexpected truths....Haslett's perceptive stories are far-flung in setting...but his themes are grounded in one place: the troubled human mind." Robert Weibezahl, BookPage
"[An] affecting debut collection....Though the thematic similarity of many of the stories dulls their startling initial impact, this is a strikingly assured first effort." Publishers Weekly
"There are some spectacular moments, and also several inexplicable miscalculations in this extremely uneven yet unquestionably promising debut collection....Not by any means the book it might — perhaps should — have been." Kirkus Reviews
"Adam Haslett's debut stories are almost frighteningly tender....Haslett is a young writer and may himself have a long journey ahead. But in the best of these stories, he reveals a piece of wisdom greater than his years: that mercy extends not just to the ill, but to their sentinels — who are, in their finest hour, blessed with the task of love." Gail Caldwell, The Boston Globe
"All this can be a little gloomy, but Haslett is an eloquent, precise miniaturist, and his characters' struggles with their own assumptions collectively provide a fascinating snapshot of life during the era of Prozac, when new ways of thinking about emotion have forced us to adjust our notion of identity and even, perhaps, of grace." The New Yorker
"Not every reader will care or dare to enter Haslett's sometimes melodramatically painful world, but the book welcomes the courageous — and the estranged." Tom LeClair, Book Magazine
"Haslett possesses a rich assortment of literary gifts: an instinctive empathy for his characters and an ability to map their inner lives in startling detail; a knack for graceful, evocative prose; and a determination to trace the hidden arithmetic of relationships." The New York Times
"Elegant....Invigorating....[Haslett has an] assured, almost democratic empathy for his admirably varied characters....These are graceful, mature, witty stories." The San Francisco Chronicle
"Adam Haslett is a wonderful rarity: an old-fashioned young storyteller with something urgent and fresh and fiercely intelligent to say. Haslett's great gifts as a writer — his fearlessness in particular — are a great gift to the reader. You're likely not only to love his stories but to feel stronger for having read them." Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections
"Adam Haslett possesses the rare ability to combine powerful narrative with sensitive and perceptive observation of people and places. You Are Not A Stranger Here is a brilliant beginning to a literary career." Barry Unsworth, author of The Songs of the Kings
"From the brilliantly manic gallop of the first story to the deep, careful, breath-held balance of the last (a truly beautiful duet of age and youth), You Are Not A Stranger Here is a book to savor." John Casey, author of The Half-Life of Happiness
The publication of “Notes to My Biographer,” in Zoetrope: All-Story magazine introduced readers to the remarkable voice of Adam Haslett. Nominated as part of a National Magazine Award, broadcast on National Public Radio, performed at venues across the country, the story brought the author widespread recognition.
Now, in his first book, Adam Haslett gives us nine richly varied stories, each suffused with intense emotion and written in a lyric prose alternatively lush and spare. You Are Not a Stranger Here carries its readers into the hearts and minds of people facing life’s most profound dilemmas. We meet an aging inventor still burning with ideas as he makes a final visit to his gay son. A psychiatrist’s encounter with a reluctant patient reveals a young doctor’s own needs and fears. An orphaned boy finds solace in a classmate’s violence. The return of an old lover disturbs the peace between a brother and sister who have lived together for decades.
In settings that range from New England to Great Britain, from Los Angeles to the American West, the stories in this book treat what Faulkner called the old verities and truths of the heart: love and honor, pity and pride, compassion and sacrifice. They do so with heartbreaking precision and an often generous humor, drawing us past the surface of characters’ lives into the moments of decision and recognition that shape them irrevocably. Together these stories constitute a significant achievement by a powerful new writer.
About the Author
Adam Haslett is the author of You Are Not A Stranger Here, a short story collection, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, and won the PEN/Winship Award. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, Zoetrope, and Best American Short Stories as well as National Public Radios Selected Shorts. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Yale Law school and has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the Michener/Copernicus Society of America. He lives in New York City, where he works part-time as a legal consultant.
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