In her newest book, Jennifer Egan imagines a future where — among other scientific innovations — people are able to upload their memories to the cloud and revisit them, as well as view other people's memories and thoughts like hyper-realistic movies. Reading The Candy House felt like living in this (very plausible) future. As the book progresses, we see situations and characters familiar to us from earlier stories, or from Egan's previous masterpiece, A Visit to the Good Squad, but from new perspectives that expand and complicate our impressions and feelings about these characters, the world, and ourselves. Recommended By Adam P., Powells.com
Jennifer Egan has a special talent for making you feel filled with hope for her characters and their futures, while being just a little bit devastated about the branches and paths that their lives take (or don't take). The Candy House shifts between viewpoints in the decades around a glitzy consumer tech invention — a social network that enables you to share and view other people's memories. While the book explores the insidious ways technology can accelerate humanity, for better and for worse, the act of reading it feels a bit like having access to a shared consciousness. It's a wonder. Recommended By Michelle C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From one of the most celebrated writers of our time, a literary figure with cult status, a "sibling novel" to her Pulitzer Prize- and NBCC Award-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad — an electrifying, deeply moving novel about the quest for authenticity and meaning in a world where memories and identities are no longer private.
The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is "one of those tech demi-gods with whom we're all on a first name basis." Bix is 40, with four kids, restless, desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or "externalizing" memory. It's 2010. Within a decade, Bix's new technology, "Own Your Unconscious" — that allows you access to every memory you've ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others--has seduced multitudes. But not everyone.
In spellbinding interlocking narratives, Egan spins out the consequences of Own Your Unconscious through the lives of multiple characters whose paths intersect over several decades. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also extraordinarily moving, a testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for real connection, love, family, privacy and redemption. In the world of Egan's spectacular imagination, there are "counters" who track and exploit desires and there are "eluders," those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles — from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter and a chapter of tweets.
If Goon Squad was organized like a concept album, The Candy House incorporates Electronic Dance Music's more disjunctive approach. The parts are titled: Build, Break, Drop. With an emphasis on gaming, portals, and alternate worlds, its structure also suggests the experience of moving among dimensions in a role-playing game.
The Candy House is a bold, brilliant imagining of a world that is moments away. Egan takes to stunning new heights her "deeply intuitive forays into the darker aspects of our technology-driven, image-saturated culture" (Vogue). The Candy House delivers an absolutely extraordinary combination of fierce, exhilarating intelligence and heart.
"Egan really dazzles when she turns her formidable gifts to examining the changes to society and individuals wrought by the internet and social media….A thrilling, endlessly stimulating work that demands to be read and reread."
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Haunting and often hilarious, this is a wondrous, riotously inventive work of speculative fiction….a top spring title with magnetic pull for Visit from the Goon Squad admirers and fans of smart, literary speculative fiction."
Booklist (Starred Review)
"An electrifying and shape-shifting story that one-ups its Pulitzer-winning predecessor....This is Egan's best yet."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Wonderfully kaleidoscopic...meticulously rendered...,A forceful, wonderfully fragmented novel of a terrifyingly possible future, as intellectually rigorous as it is formally impressive, and yet another monumental work from Egan."
Library Journal (Starred Review)
About the Author
Jennifer Egan is the author of six previous books of fiction: Manhattan Beach, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in 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. Her website is JenniferEgan.com.