A Weekend in New York
A brilliant new novel of family life from one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists and the winner of the James Tait Black Award: Ben Markovits.
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‘What are you feeling so anxious about? I’m the guy who has to go out there and lose.’
‘That’s what I don’t like. That’s what you don’t realise. It’s harder on the rest of us.’
‘I’m sure it must be,’ he said.
Tolstoy claimed: ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’. But what if the happy families are actually the most unusual of all?
Paul Essinger is a mid-ranking tennis professional on the ATP tour. His girlfriend Dana is an ex-model and photographer, and the mother of their two-year-old son, Cal. Together they form a tableau of the contented upper-middle-class New York family. But summer storms are blowing through Manhattan, and Paul’s parents have come to stay in the build-up to the US Open. Over the course of the weekend, several generations of domestic tension are brought to boiling point . . .
What does it mean to be a family? To be an individual? And how do we deal with the responsibilities these roles impose upon us? A Weekend In New York intertwines the politics of the household and the state to forge a luminous national portrait on a deceptively local scale. Recalling some of America’s most celebrated novelists – this is John Updike’s Rabbit for a new generation – Benjamin Markovits’ writing reminds us of the heights that social realism can reach.
In tender, compassionate prose and a deftly compressed time-scheme, Markovits glints through desire, ennui, misunderstanding, and love, illuminating one family's life so that it glows collectively like a human panorama.
‘This is a novel where every detail is determined. It is not an easy read, but it is a rewarding one. It would be a failure on my part to reveal the ending(s) but they are both perfectly satisfying and bravely open. Were I a betting man I would put money on this making the longlist for the Man Booker Prize this year. Even if it does not, I will remember it for a long, long time.’
‘Intimate, funny and agile enough to capture the ever-shifting sands on which family life is built … masterfully done.’
Markovits' elegant, absorbing eighth novel ... He wears his sporting knowledge with a light, limber confidence. He’s terrific on the fine-grained detail of the athlete’s life ... What a fine ear Markovits has for the way people talk ... Incrementally, over the course of the weekend, we’ve grown attuned to the lives of Markovits’s first-world also-rans, thrilled by their series of close-volley dramas like spectators in the stands of an outside court ... It feels momentous, a catalyst for change, and the outcome sends ripples into the future.
‘A book to be savoured … for its granular evocation of family life … Hugely enjoyable.’
Scrupulous social realism … what’s most striking about the novel is Markovits’s [Anne] Tyler-like ability to be both completely unsparing about, and warmly accepting of, the sheer weirdness of family life.
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