Next book

TO WALK ALONE IN THE CROWD

While this book is a flâneur’s catalog of walking among the noise of the modern world, it often feels like a marathon.

Muñoz Molina walks through the cacophony of 21st-century life with the ghosts of Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Edgar Allan Poe, Thomas De Quincey, and other famous men.

In this book, the winner of France's 2020 Medici Prize for Foreign Novel, Muñoz Molina writes with a poet’s sensibility as he collages subway advertisements, commercials, overheard conversations, and news headlines with writing that feels like it’s part fiction, part memoir. The narrator, “a spy on a secret mission to record and collect it all,” wanders New York and Madrid recording the noise of city life. Muñoz Molina writes, “I switch on the voice recorder to repeat something I’ve read. I press stop but a moment later I have to switch it on again. Give blood. We buy gold. The signs along the sidewalk gradually fall into a cadence. We buy silver and gold. Give life.” Reading paragraphs composed almost entirely of these recorded words across this 400-plus-page book becomes suffocating, though the paragraphs made from news headlines replicate the 24-hour news cycle’s deluge with stunning accuracy. Relief arrives when the collage becomes an epiphany about life, capitalism, wandering, or the self; or when Muñoz Molina indulges in fascinating stories about the lives of Baudelaire, Poe, De Quincey, and more. The second section, "Mr. Nobody," tells the story of a man wandering New York City who "has no name, at present, no face, and no biography” and feels as though “he is one more among the city’s invisible denizens.” "Mr. Nobody" is interwoven with stories about the same famous men but feels less claustrophobic because here Muñoz Molina focuses more on describing the city and its people, which enriches the experience of wandering.

While this book is a flâneur’s catalog of walking among the noise of the modern world, it often feels like a marathon.

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-19025-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

LONG ISLAND

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

An acclaimed novelist revisits the central characters of his best-known work.

At the end of Brooklyn (2009), Eilis Lacey departed Ireland for the second and final time—headed back to New York and the Italian American husband she had secretly married after first traveling there for work. In her hometown of Enniscorthy, she left behind Jim Farrell, a young man she’d fallen in love with during her visit, and the inevitable gossip about her conduct. Tóibín’s 11th novel introduces readers to Eilis 20 years later, in 1976, still married to Tony Fiorello and living in the titular suburbia with their two teenage children. But Eilis’ seemingly placid existence is disturbed when a stranger confronts her, accusing Tony of having an affair with his wife—now pregnant—and threatening to leave the baby on their doorstep. “She’d known men like this in Ireland,” Tóibín writes. “Should one of them discover that their wife had been unfaithful and was pregnant as a result, they would not have the baby in the house.” This shock sends Eilis back to Enniscorthy for a visit—or perhaps a longer stay. (Eilis’ motives are as inscrutable as ever, even to herself.) She finds the never-married Jim managing his late father’s pub; unbeknownst to Eilis (and the town), he’s become involved with her widowed friend Nancy, who struggles to maintain the family chip shop. Eilis herself appears different to her old friends: “Something had happened to her in America,” Nancy concludes. Although the novel begins with a soap-operatic confrontation—and ends with a dramatic denouement, as Eilis’ fate is determined in a plot twist worthy of Edith Wharton—the author is a master of quiet, restrained prose, calmly observing the mores and mindsets of provincial Ireland, not much changed from the 1950s.

A moving portrait of rueful middle age and the failure to connect.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781476785110

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 63


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

Next book

DEMON COPPERHEAD

An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 63


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2022


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver crafts a 21st-century coming-of-age story set in America’s hard-pressed rural South.

It’s not necessary to have read Dickens’ famous novel to appreciate Kingsolver’s absorbing tale, but those who have will savor the tough-minded changes she rings on his Victorian sentimentality while affirming his stinging critique of a heartless society. Our soon-to-be orphaned narrator’s mother is a substance-abusing teenage single mom who checks out via OD on his 11th birthday, and Demon’s cynical, wised-up voice is light-years removed from David Copperfield’s earnest tone. Yet readers also see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath his self-protective exterior. Like pretty much everyone else in Lee County, Virginia, hollowed out economically by the coal and tobacco industries, he sees himself as someone with no prospects and little worth. One of Kingsolver’s major themes, hit a little too insistently, is the contempt felt by participants in the modern capitalist economy for those rooted in older ways of life. More nuanced and emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. Kingsolver’s ferocious indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, angrily stated by a local girl who has become a nurse, is in the best Dickensian tradition, and Demon gives a harrowing account of his descent into addiction with his beloved Dori (as naïve as Dickens’ Dora in her own screwed-up way). Does knowledge offer a way out of this sinkhole? A committed teacher tries to enlighten Demon’s seventh grade class about how the resource-rich countryside was pillaged and abandoned, but Kingsolver doesn’t air-brush his students’ dismissal of this history or the prejudice encountered by this African American outsider and his White wife. She is an art teacher who guides Demon toward self-expression, just as his friend Tommy provokes his dawning understanding of how their world has been shaped by outside forces and what he might be able to do about it.

An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-325-1922

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

Close Quickview