The Burgess Boys: A Novel

Front Cover
Random House, 2013 - Fiction - 320 pages
110 Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize–winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout's “magnificent gift for humanizing characters.” Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout's newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

Praise for The Burgess Boys

“Elizabeth Strout's first two books, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys, her most recent novel, is her best yet.”—The Boston Globe

“No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout's new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop.”The Washington Post

“Strout's greatest gift as a writer, outside a diamond-sharp precision that packs 320 fast-paced pages full of insight, is her ability to let the reader in on all the rancor of her characters without making any of them truly detestable. . . . Strout creates a portrait of an American community in turmoil that's as ambitious as Philip Roth's American Pastoral but more intimate in tone.”Time

“What truly makes Strout exceptional—and her latest supple and penetrating novel so profoundly affecting—is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling. . . . Every element in Strout's graceful, many-faceted novel is keenly observed, lustrously imagined and trenchantly interpreted.”—Chicago Tribune

“Strout deftly exposes the tensions that fester among families. But she also takes a broader view, probing cultural divides. . . . Illustrating the power of roots, Strout assures us we can go home again—though we may not want to.”O: The Oprah Magazine
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ImperfectCJ - LibraryThing

It was the delicate flow of the writing that carried me through this book, not the subject matter. I'm just sick of hearing about New York City and Baby Boomers whining about how things didn't work ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - angiestahl - LibraryThing

Hmmm. For me, this felt more like a book I needed to read based on the critical acclaim, than one I was excited to read. This was a mechanically-sound book, certainly well-written and narratively ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
11
Section 3
31
Section 4
42
Section 5
47
Section 6
60
Section 7
64
Section 8
69
Section 22
184
Section 23
195
Section 24
203
Section 25
209
Section 26
212
Section 27
231
Section 28
239
Section 29
245

Section 9
74
Section 10
81
Section 11
91
Section 12
100
Section 13
117
Section 14
120
Section 15
123
Section 16
126
Section 17
132
Section 18
136
Section 19
140
Section 20
169
Section 21
175
Section 30
252
Section 31
255
Section 32
261
Section 33
274
Section 34
278
Section 35
281
Section 36
285
Section 37
302
Section 38
309
Section 39
316
Section 40
323
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

Bibliographic information