Wednesday, June 27, 2012

THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU: A REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU
BY JOSHUA HENKIN

ABOUT THE BOOK:
From the author of the New York Times Notable Book Matrimony ["Beautiful . . . Brilliant."—Michael Cunningham], a moving, mesmerizing new novel about love, loss, and the aftermath of a family tragedy.
 

It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.

The parents, Marilyn and David, are adrift in grief. Their forty-year marriage is falling apart. Clarissa, the eldest sibling and a former cello prodigy, has settled into an ambivalent domesticity and is struggling at age thirty-nine to become pregnant. Lily, a fiery-tempered lawyer and the family contrarian, is angry at everyone. And Noelle, whose teenage years were shadowed by promiscuity and school expulsions, has moved to Jerusalem and become a born-again Orthodox Jew. The last person to see Leo alive, Noelle has flown back for the memorial with her husband and four children, but she feels entirely out of place. And Thisbe —Leo’s widow and mother of their three-year-old son—has come from California bearing her own secret.

Set against the backdrop of Independence Day and the Iraq War, The World Without You is a novel about sibling rivalries and marital feuds, about volatile women and silent men, and, ultimately, about the true meaning of family. 


PRAISE FOR THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU:
“When conventionalists claim, 'They don't write novels like that anymore,' this is the sort of novel they mean.  Yet the very familiarity and durability of the setup suggests that the traditional novel remains very much alive and healthy as well, if the narrative momentum and depth of character here are proof of vitality. . . . A novel that satisfies all expectations.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Like a more bittersweet version of Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You or a less chilly variation on Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Henkin tenderly explores family dynamics in this novel about the ties that bind, and even lacerate . . . The author has created an empathetic cast of characters that the reader will love spending time with, even as they behave like fools and hurt one another. An intelligently written novel that works as a summer read and for any other time of the year.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An American Jewish family gathers at its summer home in the Berkshires to mourn the youngest of the four children, a journalist killed while on assignment in Iraq. Henkin excels at characterization, and he outdoes himself here in a novel that might have been called Six Characters in Search of Family Happiness.”
—Commentary (Summer Reading Preview)

“Henkin imbues The World Without You with wisdom, humor, and a clear sense of history. This book is a triumph and an important novel about America.”
—Yiyun Lee, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

“Rich, deep, funny, and wise, this is a sumptuous layer cake of a novel whose ordinary yet urgent dramas remind us that family is where it all begins. Henkin is a writer of voluminous heart, humanity, and talent.”
—Julia Glass, author of The Widower’s Tale

“An immeasurably moving masterpiece that tracks the intricate threads connecting children to parents, sisters to brothers, wives to husbands. To say I ‘cared’ about these characters would be to hugely understate their consuming effect on me.”
—Heidi Julavits, author of The Vanishers

“Marvelous on the solitudes that exist even within the strongest and most compassionate of families. I love the relentlessness with which it reminds us that our politics will reach its wrecking ball into the lives of even those of us who are most comfortable.”
—Jim Shepard, author of You Think That's Bad
  
“Witty, poignant, and heartfelt. The 4th of July will never be the same for me, nor for my fellow Americans. I can't imagine a world without Joshua Henkin.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

EXCERPT FROM THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU:
PROLOGUE
 
Here,” she says, “I’ll get you a sweater.” She’s barely done speaking before she’s taking the stairs two at a time, her espadrilles clomping against the peeling wood, transporting her down the long hallway. It’s July and twilight comes late, so even now, at nine o’clock, the last of the sun still colors the sky, but inside the house the corridors are dark and she’s neglected to illuminate the antique standing lamp at the top of the stairs as if to reflect an inner austerity. It’s their country house, but like their apartment in the city the hallway runs through it, an endless spine, which she traverses now, past the Kathe Kollwitz etchings and the street map of Paris and the photographs of her and David’s grandparents staring down at them on opposite sides of the wall from another continent and century. She moves with such purpose (dogged, implacable: those are the words David uses to describe her) that when she reaches the lip of their bedroom and steps inside she’s startled to discover she’s forgotten what she came for.
 
She calls out to him, but he doesn’t respond.
 
“Are you there?”
 
There’s silence.
 
“David?” She’ll turn seventy next spring, and David will, too (They were born a week apart. They’ve figured it out: she was emerging from the womb at the very hour he was circumcised, the first and last Jewish ritual he ever partook of, which places him, she thinks, one Jewish ritual ahead of her.), and she’s taken to saying her memory has begun to fail her, though she knows that’s not true. Or no more true than for any sixty-nine-year-old—or for any adult human, for that matter. To have the memory of an infant, a toddler. She recalls Clarissa at ten months, those first stabs at language, how she resolved right then to teach her daughter French and German, to do it while it was still possible. She felt the same with Lily and Noelle, and again a few years later when Leo was born. She spent her junior year in Paris, at the Sorbonne, and David spent his junior year in Düsseldorf. Her French was rusty by the time the children were born, and David’s German was rusty, too, but it was worth a try, wasn’t it, she said, and she still had her Berlitz tapes. And David, who in those days was still inclined to indulge her, allowed her to convince him to embark on a summer experiment; she would speak French to Clarissa and he would speak German. Two junior years abroad between them, one set of Berlitz tapes: the experiment lasted a week, the two of them speaking to baby Clarissa in their bad French and bad German until it became obvious to Marilyn what should have been obvious to her all along, that their daughter wasn’t going to be trilingual; she was going to be mute, a wolf-child.
 
She remembers now. A sweater. She stands in front of their old closet, and there they are: David’s shirts pressed and starched and evenly spaced, the shoes lined up in pairs, the sweaters folded in piles, next to them hanging a single brown cardigan. For a second she feels like a voyeur, looking in on a life that’s no longer hers, and as she reaches out to grab the cardigan her hand shakes.


To finish reading this excerpt, visit the Random House website HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
JOSHUA HENKIN is the author of the novels Swimming Across the Hudson (a Los Angeles Times Notable Book) and Matrimony (a New York Times Notable Book). His stories have been published widely, cited for distinction in Best American Short Stories and broadcast on NPR's Selected Shorts. He directs the MFA Program in Fiction Writing at Brooklyn College. 

From a "Q&A" with Joshua Henkin on the Random House website, here is just one response I wanted to share. You can go to the website HERE to read all of the Q&A.
Q: This book is written from the perspectives of various women in, or connected to, the Frankel family. What are the challenges of being male, but writing from a female perspective?
A:
It’s a challenge, I suppose, for a male writer to write from a female perspective but no more so, it seems to me, than for a young person to write from an old person’s perspective, a poor person to write from a rich person’s perspective, or a gregarious person to write from a shy person’s perspective.  I don’t see why gender should be a more insurmountable barrier than other ones.  I believe good fiction can transcend difference, that it can take us out of our own experiences and allow us to inhabit the experiences of others.  It’s what happens, ideally, to the reader, and in order for it to happen to the reader it has to happen to the writer too.

A couple of years ago, I gave a reading from an early draft of The World Without You, and I was reading with a woman novelist who read a section of her novel told from the perspective of a man.  When the reading was over, she, too, was asked the gender question, and she said, “Are you kidding me?  I spent half my life flirting with boys.  I know them far better than I know girls.”  She was kidding, sort of, but I think there’s a real truth there.  In a lot of ways it’s easier to write from the perspective of someone different from you.  We’re so close to our own experiences that we don’t see ourselves as clearly as we see others.

MY THOUGHTS/REVIEW:
On July 4, 2004, Leo Frankel, Marilyn and David Frankel’s only son, an investigative journalist, was killed in Iraq. One year later the Frankel family gathers at their summer home to attend his memorial service. Thus, Joshua Henkin begins this moving account in his latest book, THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU.

The marvelously fashioned characters reveal common conflicts that are centered on Leo‘s death and each person‘s role in the family. The characters are real and the reader can relate to them and believe in them. More importantly, like them or hate them, Henkin writes so that readers care about them. This makes THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU a glorious narrative that keeps readers involved from page one. The combined storylines for each character take place over just a few days and create a powerful backdrop for the story. The simple conversations between two characters is what moves the story along. With so many characters, the result of Henkin seamlessly managing to pull off this extraordinary narrative is quite remarkable.

Clarissa, Leo’s oldest sister, has come with her husband, Nathaniel, a 44-year-old neuroscientist. In the past year, Clarissa has become obsessed with trying to have a baby now that she is 39.

Noelle, the middle daughter, whose wild youth is quite a contrast to her current life, has come with her family all the way from Israel. A practicing Orthodox Jew, she is with her husband, Amram, and their four sons. Theirs is an extremely complicated relationship.

Lily, the third daughter, a lawyer in Washington, DC., seems the most stable. Her boyfriend is not with her at the start and that is how she wanted it.

Finally, there is Leo’s widow, Thisbe, who came from California where she is in her PhD program and raising their three-year-old son, Calder. Thisbe is the least involved in the family dramatics but has something to share with the family that is sure to involve her much more right away.

The final piece in the Frankel family is what should be the glue that holds them all together. This is Marilyn and David, Leo’s parents, who are married 42 years when they discover in the last year that perhaps their marriage died along with Leo. They have the biggest family announcement that sends all the rest into a tailspin. How will the family react to Marilyn and David’s announcement? What part will Thisbe’s news have in the drama of the Frankels? Where will Noelle and Amram wind up after an argument that sent Amram from the home as they all wonder if he will even return? How can these individual problems play out in order to draw THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU to a satisfying close? Or does it?

You have to judge for yourself but I can tell you that from the beginning of the story, you will become so involved in the lives of these fascinating characters that you will definitely have strong opinions on how each one works things out in the end. THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU is one I strongly recommend and hope you all will buy or borrow as this is Josh Henkin at his best!
GIVEAWAY
THANKS TO AUTHOR JOSHUA HENKIN,
I HAVE ONE COPY OF THIS FABULOUS
NEW NOVEL, THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU,
TO GIVE AWAY TO ONE  LUCKY READER
 
--U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
 

COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!


HOW TO ENTER:


+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT WHAT YOU READ ABOVE ABOUT THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU THAT MADE YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG AND/OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK


+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE ITEM OF PRAISE ABOVE THAT MOST MADE YOU WANT TO ENTER TO WIN THIS BOOK (YOU CAN JUST NAME THE PERSON WHO WROTE THE QUOTE)

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FIND INTERESTING AT JOSHUA HENKIN'S BLOG HERE 

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU FOLLOW MORE THAN ONE WAY, YOU CAN COMMENT SEPARATELY AND EACH WILL COUNT AS AN ENTRY

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON A CURRENT GIVEAWAY THAT YOU HAVE ENTERED ON MY BLOG. IF YOU ENTERED MORE THAN ONE, YOU MAY COMMENT SEPARATELY FOR EACH TO RECEIVE MORE ENTRIES
 
GIVEAWAY ENDS AT 
6 PM, EST, JULY 12
  GOOD LUCK!

216 comments:

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debbie said...

I would like to read more about what happens in this family. It sounds like a good book.
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Bethie said...

Sounds like a good family drams

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holdenj said...

I have heard the best things about this book and would love to delve into this family! Thanks!
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holdenj said...

I think Julia Glass had beautiful comments!
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Steve Capell said...

Bingo your post on this novel is outstanding! I would love to read about the dynamics of this family so thanks for the opportunity.

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traveler said...

I would enjoy this family saga. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

The author is talented and has written interesting novels. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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Publishers Weekly praise is wonderful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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petite said...

A novel that is compelling. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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Carol N Wong said...

This book seems to involve so many dramatic changes for that family. I think it must be riveting to read.

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Carol N Wong said...

I tweeted:

http://t.co/0DZtX48C

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Carol N Wong said...

Julia Glass

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Carol N Wong said...

I watched the video interview about his book, "Matrimony".

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I follow your blog with an e-mail subscription.


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lag123 said...

Thanks for the great review. I love books involving relationships.

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Margie said...

This sounds like an intense family drama. I would be interested in finding out how the familyt moves forward after this terrible tragedy.
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Margie said...

On the author's website I found a post about The Marriage. This sounds very intriguing. Might have to go on my TBR list.
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Margie said...

I like the review from Julian Glass. I agree with her statement that "family is where it all begins."
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Tore said...

Sounds like a really good book. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber. Tore923@aol.com

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mamabunny13 said...

Sounds like a lot of family drama going on.
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Pamela Keener said...

This book sounds so interesting. I am putting this on my TBR list
Thanks for the giveaway and the review
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Pamela Keener said...

I like Gary's review that says 4th of July will never be the same for me
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rubynreba said...

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Linda Kish said...

My sister died in a small plane crash in Africa in 1980 and I remember it like it was yesterday including how we all reacted. Then we lost my brother 4 months later. Just reading the part of the book here brings it all back and I can feel for these characters. It sounds terrific.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

The Publisher's Weekly review really resonated with me.

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Linda Kish said...

He also has a book called Matrimony that sounds interesting

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I am an email subscriber

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Linda Kish said...

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holdenj said...

I entered The Joy Fit Club.
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Amy said...

This book has a terrific setting and I'm captivated by the story of afamily trying to cope with their grief over the death of one of their children and siblings.

I was also completely intrigued by the author's comment that "good fiction transcends difference" and takes us "out of our experiences" and allows us to see other's experiences.

I definitely want to read this book with those ideas in mind.

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Amy said...

There are many wonderful comments of praise here but Julia Glass' comment about the book and the author spoke to me. I've read several books by Julia Glass and so her wonderful comments about this book are ones I trust!

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Amy said...

I really enjoy the conversation with Joshua Henkin that's linked on his blog. Everything I read about him makes me moore and more interested in reading his work.

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I'm a GFC follower of your blog (Amy)

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I'm an email subscriber to your blog (Aimala02@yahoo.com)


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Tiffany Drew said...

I've seen this book all over the place. It sounds like an emotional family read, my favorite! Thank you for another fantastic giveaway!

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Tiffany Drew said...

Heidi Julavits's quote definitely makes me want to read this more!

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Bethie said...

ENtered Quilt or Innocence

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Mohit said...

This sounds like a good book. I will like to get my hands on a copy

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Bethie said...

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