2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
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I don't always read historical fiction, but I'm so glad that I made an exception for Manhattan Beach. I love Jennifer Egan's prose and the atmosphere in this book, and the intertwining storylines kept me intrigued to the end. Recommended By Ashleigh B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
LONGLISTED for the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad.
"Immensely satisfying…an old-fashioned page-turner, tweaked by this witty and sophisticated writer…Egan is masterly at displaying mastery…she works a formidable kind of magic." — Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"Dares to satisfy us in a way that stories of an earlier age used to." — Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"Egan’s prose is transparent and elegant…But the chief joy of reading Manhattan Beach lies in diving under the surface pleasures of the plot (which are plentiful — it’s immersive and compelling), and sinking slowly to its dark and unknowable depths. There are deep truths there." — Vox
"Excellent…Manhattan Beach is a fleet, sinuous epic, abounding with evocative details and felicitous metaphors…[it] magnificently captures the country on the brink of triumph and triumphalism." — Bookforum
"Egan’s first foray into historical fiction makes you forget you’re reading historical fiction at all." — Elle
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.
Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.
With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.
"Egan’s most remarkable accomplishment yet....At once a suspenseful novel of noir intrigue, a gorgeously wrought and richly allusive literary tapestry, and a transporting work of lyrical beauty and emotional heft, Manhattan Beach is a magnificent achievement." Priscilla Gilman, The Boston Globe
"Immensely satisfying...[Manhattan Beach] is a dreadnought of a World War II-era historical novel, bristling with armaments yet intimate in tone. It’s an old-fashioned page-turner, tweaked by this witty and sophisticated writer so that you sometimes feel she has retrofitted sleek new engines inside a craft owned for too long by James Jones and Herman Wouk. . . . She is masterly at displaying mastery. . . . Egan’s fiction buzzes with factual crosscurrents, casually deployed....Egan works a formidable kind of magic...This is a big novel that moves with agility." Dwight Garner, New York Times
"Manhattan Beach is so rich in detail and atmosphere; such an exploration of underworlds of all kinds, filled with lessons on lifelines and buoyancy and how to bear life’s weight by diving deep into it. Jennifer Egan has masterfully conjured an era we are on the cusp of losing. Her novel is an absorbing story, beautifully written. Its strands of subtle intrigue and quiet heroism make you reluctant to leave each page while eager to get to the next." M.L. Stedman
"A bounteous miracle that makes you feel that past time, and our time, differently; everything becomes freshly energized, infused with humanity, vital, sad, and full of importance. To see the world through Egan’s eyes is to be moved, through language, to new adoration of the world. I don’t know a better writer working today. There is a generosity in her prose that is vastly enlivening to its reader and brings about that beautiful effect fiction sometimes causes: more, and better-grounded, fondness for reality, just as it is." George Saunders
About the Author
Jennifer Egan is the author of five previous books of fiction: A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Keep; the story collection Emerald City; Look at Me, a National Book Award Finalist; and The Invisible Circus. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Granta, McSweeney's, and The New York Times Magazine.