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‘I was looking for a quiet place to die. Someone recommended Brooklyn, and so the next morning I travelled down there from Westchester to scope out the terrain . . .‘
So begins Paul Auster’s remarkable new novel, The Brooklyn Follies. Set against the backdrop of the contested US election of 2000, it tells the story of Nathan and Tom, an uncle and nephew double-act. One in remission from lung cancer, divorced, and estranged from his only daughter, the other hiding away from his once-promising academic career, and, indeed, from life in general.
Having accidentally ended up in the same Brooklyn neighbourhood, they discover a community teeming with life and passion. When Lucy, a little girl who refuses to speak, comes into their lives, there is suddenly a bridge from their pasts that offers them the possibility of redemption. Infused with character, mystery and humour, these lives intertwine and become bound together as Auster brilliantly explores the wider terrain of contemporary America – a crucible of broken dreams and of human folly.
‘Auster at the top of his game. This superb novel about human folly turns out to be tremendously wise.’ New Statesman
The Brooklyn Follies is a marvellous book, dense and allusive but, at the same time, as inspiring a work of art as any being made in these difficult times.
no metaphysical writer can make you feel more like you're being read a bedtime tale by a gentle, hangdog uncle... there is still a hint of the magical in the everyday events that he chronicles.
This book will make you re-warm to Auster if you thought you had 'done' him, and should win him new admirers on this softer, more sentimental side of the Channel.
The Brooklyn Follies is warmer than any of Auster's previous novels, and is touched by an unmistakable air of nostalgia ... The Brooklyn Follies seems more deliberately playful in its relationship with this paradigm.
And so we wind up with the side-splitting, dark, cackling humour of Brooklyn Follies.
A fascination with apparently random acts that wrench the casual chain from its orderly path pervades Auster's fiction, but what makes it so mysterious and addictive is that the random acts... somehow feel more real and plausible than when the world behaves well... his work has a lightness of touch that gives it resonance beyond just American society... Auster startles the reader into wider reflections at the very instant that he seems to limit his novel to contemporary America.
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