Synopses & Reviews
Luminous, passionate, expansive, an emotional tour de force
Sunset Park follows the hopes and fears of a cast of unforgettable characters brought together by the mysterious Miles Heller during the dark months of the 2008 economic collapse.
An enigmatic young man employed as a trash-out worker in southern Florida obsessively photographing thousands of abandoned objects left behind by the evicted families.
A group of young people squatting in an apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
The Hospital for Broken Things, which specializes in repairing the artifacts of a vanished world.
William Wyler's 1946 classic The Best Years of Our Lives.
A celebrated actress preparing to return to Broadway.
An independent publisher desperately trying to save his business and his marriage.
These are just some of the elements Auster magically weaves together in this immensely moving novel about contemporary America and its ghosts. Sunset Park is a surprising departure that confirms Paul Auster as one of our greatest living writers.
"Paul Auster is one of those sages with confounding talent—confounding for one because he's simply that good... He belongs among Vonnegut, Roth, and DeLillo... Now is the time to herald the Post-Recession Novel. Sunset Park looks to be it." —Claire Howorth, The Daily Beast
"Exquisitely crafted, surprisingly tender... A story grounded in the potent emotions of love, loss, regret and vengeance, and the painful reality of current day calamities.... Auster fans and newcomers will find in Sunset Park his usual beautifully nuanced prose.... [and] a tremendous crash bang of an ending." —Jane Ciabattari, NPR "Books We Like"
"A swift-moving, character-driven narrative [that] explores guilt, luck, and our enduring need for human contact and a sense of belonging. Powerful…Readers might find their one regret is seeing the book end." —Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch
"A haymaker of a contemporary American novel, realistic and serious as your life." —Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"With a plot that encompasses war in the Middle East, economic recession and the perils of the publishing industry, a contemporary vitality distinguishes the latest from the veteran author…. Sure to please Auster fans and likely to attract new readers as well." —Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Passionately literary… every element is saturated with implication as each wounded, questing character's story illuminates our tragic flaws and profound need for connection, coherence, and beauty. In a time of daunting crises and change, Auster reminds us of lasting things, of love, art, and ‘the miraculous strangeness of being alive.'" —Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Auster deftly balances minute details that evoke New York City, post-financial meltdown, with marvelously drawn characters bruised but unbowed by life's vicissitudes. He has an impressive array of literary nominations to his credit, but this should be the novel that brings him a broader readership." —Sally Bissell, Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Auster is in excellent form… a gratifying departure from the postmodern trickery he's known for, one full of crisp turns of phrase and keen insights." —Publishers Weekly
"Sunset Park is sprawling but taut, toweringly ambitious in scope yet wholly intimate in the sphere of its characters' lives. While we still teeter on the brink of recession in an uncertain economic recovery—with millions still out of work and losing their homes—this novel is probably one of the most important literary touchstones of our era. And it's a true pleasure to read." —Jason Bennett, Library Journal
"A clear-eyed and muscular fable about tough economic times." —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (Pre-Pub "My Picks")
"The latest and arguably most user-friendly among the whip-smart fiction canon of Paul Auster... [A] winning novel... In Sunset Park, Auster seems to carry all of humanity inside him." —Jan Stuart, The Boston Globe
"As remarkable as are Austers skill and experience, this kind of writing—this kind of ending—takes another, rarer attribute: tremendous courage." —David Takami, The Seattle Times
"Unexpectedly searing... Sunset Park's prodigal-son tale is somberly poignant, a study of how deeply the urge to connect runs." —Mark Athitakis, Salon.com
"Classic Auster." —Joseph Peschel, The Kansas City Star
"Resonate[s] with a warm acknowledgment of the tests and limitations of age and the vibrancy of experience... A lovely ride." —Kate Christensen, Elle
"Auster has delivered an emotionally appealing book about the varieties of modern love... The son-father story is in fact the warmest line of narrative Auster has ever written, outside of the man and the dog story in his much earlier novel, Timbuktu, and it lends the entire novel a certain provident heat." —Alan Cheuse, Dallas News
A New York Times Bestseller
From the bestselling author of Invisible and The New York Trilogy comes a new novel set during the 2008 economic collapse. Sunset Park opens with twenty-eight-year-old Miles Heller trashing out foreclosed houses in Florida, the latest stop in his flight across the country. When Miles falls in love with Pilar Sanchez, he finds himself fleeing once again, going back to New York, where his family still lives, and into an abandoned house of young squatters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Woven together from various points of view that of Miles's father, an independent book publisher trying to stay afloat, Miles's mother, a celebrated actress preparing her return to the New York stage, and the various men and women who live in the house "Auster seems to carry all of humanity inside him" (Jan Stuart, The Boston Globe).
A New York Times Bestseller
From the bestselling author of Invisible and The New York Trilogy comes a new novel set during the 2008 economic collapse. Sunset Park opens with twenty-eight-year-old Miles Heller trashing out foreclosed houses in Florida, the latest stop in his flight across the country. When Miles falls in love with Pilar Sanchez, he finds himself fleeing once again, going back to New York, where his family still lives, and into an abandoned house of young squatters in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Woven together from various points of view—that of Miless father, an independent book publisher trying to stay afloat, Miless mother, a celebrated actress preparing her return to the New York stage, and the various men and women who live in the house—“Auster seems to carry all of humanity inside him” (Jan Stuart, The Boston Globe).
About the Author
is the bestselling, award-winning author of 16 novels, including Sunset Park, Invisible, Man in the Dark, Travels in the Scriptorium, The Brooklyn Follies
, and Oracle Night
. His work has been translated into more than 40 languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Reading Group Guide
1. What is the meaning of baseball to each of the three generations of Heller men, especially in terms of luck and chance?
2. Morris ponders his own father Alvins wounded eye from a baseball, thinking that it is no different than a war wound because “part of his life had been shot down.” Do you agree?
3. The 1946 movie The Best Years of Our Lives figures prominently in the novel. How are the horrors of World War II linked to the struggles of the characters in Sunset Park? Do they speak to a fundamental contradiction to the idea of the American dream?
4. Do you agree with Alices idea in her thesis that after the devastating effects of war, families can never go back to the way they were?
5. Why does Alice believe that Miles is an old man on the inside, but Morris think that he is a very young man at heart, stunted by his lost years (hence his relationship with Pilar)?
6. Do you have long-term hopes for Miless relationship with Pilar? Does Pilar herself embody the idea of the American dream, as a beautiful, intelligent immigrant girl with a bright future?
7. Renzo is a writer who struggled for many years before achieving success and stability. Miless mother Mary-Lee is a renowned, still-working actress. Are these kinds of careers possible for Miles or any of his friends? Do present economic and cultural conditions allow for talents in the art world to break out and find success?
8. Suki and Miles both shared a sense of doom and nihilism despite their beauty, intelligence, youth and opportunity. What does Morris make of this phenomenon?
9. Bing feels a moral obligation to alert Miless parents of his doings. Was he right to do so? Should Miles have had a right to privacy and anonymity?
10. What aspects of Alices character make her perhaps “heartier” and better suited to difficult circumstances than her housemates? Why is she so beloved by her housemates?
11. Ellen describes her love of “pure thingness” early on in the novel, which in turn inspires her art and an eventual reunion with her former lover. Can physical wellbeing, comfort or pleasure directly cause emotional wellbeing?
12. If the house in Sunset Park is a family, what traditional familial roles do each of the characters play in terms of their responsibilities and relationships to each other?
13. Why is Willa, Miless stepmother, so deeply hurt by Miless disappearance and unable to forgive, while his mother is able to accept him back almost immediately?
14. Throughout Sunset Park, Auster references classic works of literature and theatre from Homers Odyssey to Becketts Happy Days. How might the structure and storytelling of the novel itself echo these works of literature?