Best known for her two novels The Keep, and A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan is back with another book, Manhattan Beach: A Novel. The Keep, published in 2007, was a national bestseller, and her last book A Visit from the Goon Squad won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Egan is fairly unclassifiable when it comes to genres, her knowledge of her own writing, skill, and material, meaning that she can develop her novels in a variety of genres, equally comfortable in each one.
Seven years after the release of A Visit from the Goon Squad, comes Manhattan Beach, Egan’s first dip into historical fiction, which she takes on with her usual grace and style. Set during WWII, Manhattan Beach tells the story of Anna Kerrigan, who, at eleven years old, accompanies her father to visit the notorious Dexter Styles, nightclub owner and gangster. Years later, when her father disappears, Anna gets a job working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, repairing ships for the military. With a drive to become one of the first female divers, and as the only support for her mother and disabled sister, Anna’s life is full and busy – but always in the back of her mind is the question of her father. When she meets Dexter Styles again, only then does she begin to start understanding her family, her father, the complexities of his life, and how it’s impacted her own.
While historical fiction has a tendency to be filled with nostalgia, Egan’s strength of knowledge of her materials saves her from this – instead, there is practical information about diving and diving equipment, as well as the time period itself; there are straightforward explorations into the rigidity of the rules over appropriate female behavior, the tension of women taking jobs usually held by men. There is nothing overtly romanticized. Unlike A Visit from the Good Squad, which had a whole chapter in PowerPoint slide style, Manhattan Beach: A Novel, reads like a regular book – except that Egan’s writing style is so detailed and fulfilled, it becomes a strikingly complex read.
Manhattan Beach was released today, October 3rd.
For more information on Jennifer Egan, please visit her website jenniferegan.com
Jennifer Egan is on a book tour to promote ‘Manhattan Beach: A Novel’. Here are the dates and locations for October:
October 3rd – Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia Free Library
October 4th – New York, NY – Barnes & Noble Union Square
October 5th – Brooklyn, NY – Greenlight at Brooklyn Navy Yard
October 7th – New York, NY – New Yorker Festival
October 10th – Jackson, MS – Lemuria Books
October 11th – Chicago, IL – Women and Children First
October 12th – St. Louis, MO – St. Louis County Library
October 13th – Nashville, TN – Southern Festival of Books
October 16th – San Francisco, CA – City Arts and Lectures
October 17th – Danville, CA – Rakestraw Books
October 18th – Berkeley, CA – Mrs. Dalloway’s
October 19th – Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Public Library
October 20th – Manhattan Beach, CA – Mysterious Galaxy Ladies Lunch
October 23rd – Washington D.C. – Politics and Prose
October 24th – Seattle, WA – Elliot Bay Book Company
October 25th – Vancouver, Canada – Vancouver Writers Festival
October 26th – Minneapolis, MN – Hopkins Center for the Arts
October 30th – Toronto, Canada – Toronto Reference Library
Jennifer Egan is the author of several novels and a short story collection. Her most recent book, A Visit From the Goon Squad, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times book prize. Also a journalist, she has written frequently in the New York Times Magazine. Her new novel, Manhattan Beach, will be published in October 2017.