A chance incident brings racial and marital tensions on Long Island to a head in this first installment of a debut series.

Former golf wunderkind Buddy Graves never planned to return to his old club as a caddy at age 32, but the recession had other ideas. Now he’s just trying to hold fast to his lovely nurse wife, Dana, while watching his neighborhood crumble in the housing bust. Then it happens: a 7-year-old girl who lives next door slips innocently into Buddy’s bathroom, he hustles her outside, a cell phone camera snaps and one Tyrell Walker embarks on a twisted crusade for “Webtribution” and racial justice. But that’s not Buddy’s only problem. Dominating the country club scene is Izzy Weinberg, nursing home baron, and his still-sexy wife, Elaine, with whom Buddy enjoyed a steamy flirtation on the links years ago. Izzy harbors Carnegie-style railroad dreams, boozes up Chinese business partners and keeps a smart young assistant working late under his covers. The web tightens when Dana joins a health task force investigating Izzy’s empire, and then her muckracking blogger gal pal posts a damning photo of a black activist professor—with connections to Tyrell—in company of the wrong color. So unfolds this smartly structured soap opera that adroitly lampoons our postmodern smugness. If we really want to explode stereotypes of rich Jews, femmes fatales, Asian power brokers, radicalized black brothers and white jocks whose lives crashed long ago, why not throw them together for high stakes and watch the sparks and clichés fly? Gritty vernacular rules the book, with heavy doses of ghetto talk and enough N-bombs and F-bombs to supply a platoon. The women seem a tad interchangeable, but they serve just fine as beautiful causes that launch men to insane states of desire. And sometimes, of course, ambition really is a bitch. At least one dream gets reborn at the novel’s end, with further complications and unsavory revelations promised in book two. Bring it on. A cleverly threaded melodrama with a raunchy style and enough secrets, sex and culture clashes to keep the pages turning.


Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463606312

Page Count: 318

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?


A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?