Synopses & Reviews
From New York Times
bestselling author T.C. Boyle, a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and anti-authoritarianism inherent In the American character
Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people — an aging ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son's paranoid, much-older lover — as they careen toward an explosive confrontation.
On a cruise to Central America, seventy-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills an armed robber menacing a busload of tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California — only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.
Adam has become involved with Sara, a hardened member of a right-wing anarchist group that refuses to acknowledge the laws of the state. Adam's senior by some fifteen years, she becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam's mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly delusional until a schizophrenic breakdown leads him to shoot two people. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.
As T.C. Boyle explores a father's legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, he offers unparalleled insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.
“The latest from a prolific and acclaimed novelist, The Harder They Come is a family saga that maps the relationships between the three people at its heart, as their potent mix of violence and paranoia urges them toward tragedy.” Huffington Post
“...Boyle tellingly explores the anger, paranoia, and violence lurking in the shadowlands of the American psyche. A powerful and profoundly unsettling tale.” Library Journal (starred review)
“This new work of fiction from Boyle presents a fractured threesome: a 70-year-old ex-Marine, his troubled son and the sons older girlfriend-a right-wing anarchist. A dark novel, The Harder They Come explores violence and the American psyche.” Houston Chronicle
“T.C. Boyle again explores his favorite territory, the American psyche, in The Harder They Come, a gripping novel about an aging Vietnam vet and his mentally unstable son, out in April.” Tampa Bay Times
“When precisely...does T.C. Boyle sleep? In the 35 years since his first book came out, Boyle has published 14 novels and more than 100 stories. The Harder They Come is the usual T.C. Boyle...circus of serious-minded zaniness.” The Millions
“Boyle's...hypnotic narrative probes the complexities of heroism, violence, power, and resistance....Written with both clarity and compassion, each of the novels characters inhabits a rich and convincing private world. As they traverse a landscape none of them control, their haunting stories illuminate the violent American battle with otherness.” Publishers Weekly
“Boyle has long been one of the most exciting and intelligent storytellers in the United States. His upcoming novel describes a mentally ill young man involved with a group of violent anarchists.” Washington Post
About the Author
T.C. Boyle is an American novelist and short story writer. Since the late 1970s, he has published fourteen novels and ten collections of short stories. He won the PEN/Faulkner award in 1988 for his novel World's End, and the Prix Médicis étranger for The Tortilla Curtain in 1995, as well as the 2014 Henry David Thoreau award for excellence in nature writing. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California and lives in Santa Barbara.