And Sons by David Gilbert
A Novel

78%

10 Critic Reviews

When someone uses the term "instant classic," I typically want to grab him and ask, "So this is, what, like the new Great Expectations?...& Sons, seductive and ripe with both comedy and heartbreak, made me reconsider my stance on such a label.
-NPR

Synopsis

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The New Yorker • Esquire • The Austin Chronicle • Kansas City Star • The Guardian (UK) • BookPage • Flavorwire • Bookish

“[A] big, brilliant novel.”—The New York Times Book Review

Who is A. N. Dyer? & Sons is a literary masterwork for readers of The Art of Fielding, The Emperor’s Children, and Wonder Boys—the panoramic, deeply affecting story of an iconic novelist, two interconnected families, and the heartbreaking truths that fiction can hide.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
The funeral of Charles Henry Topping on Manhattan’s Upper East Side would have been a minor affair (his two-hundred-word obit in The New York Times notwithstanding) but for the presence of one particular mourner: the notoriously reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic of American teenage angst. But as Andrew Newbold Dyer delivers the eulogy for his oldest friend, he suffers a breakdown over the life he’s led and the people he’s hurt and the novel that will forever endure as his legacy. He must gather his three sons for the first time in many years—before it’s too late.
 
So begins a wild, transformative, heartbreaking week, as witnessed by Philip Topping, who, like his late father, finds himself caught up in the swirl of the Dyer family. First there’s son Richard, a struggling screenwriter and father, returning from self-imposed exile in California. In the middle lingers Jamie, settled in Brooklyn after his twenty-year mission of making documentaries about human suffering. And last is Andy, the half brother whose mysterious birth tore the Dyers apart seventeen years ago, now in New York on spring break, determined to lose his virginity before returning to the prestigious New England boarding school that inspired Ampersand. But only when the real purpose of this reunion comes to light do these sons realize just how much is at stake, not only for their father but for themselves and three generations of their family.
 
In this daring feat of fiction, David Gilbert establishes himself as one of our most original, entertaining, and insightful authors. & Sons is that rarest of treasures: a startlingly imaginative novel about families and how they define us, and the choices we make when faced with our own mortality.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE
  
“Big, brilliant, and terrifically funny.”—Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
 
“Extraordinary.”—Time
 
“Smart and savage . . . Seductive and ripe with both comedy and heartbreak, [& Sons] made me reconsider my stance on . . . the term ‘instant classic.’”—NPR
 
“A big, ambitious book about fathers and sons, Oedipal envy and sibling rivalry, and the dynamics between art and life . . . [& Sons] does a wonderful job of conjuring up its characters’ memories . . . in layered, almost Proustian detail.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“[A] smart, engrossing saga . . . Perfect for fans of Jonathan Franzen or Claire Messud.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“Audacious . . . [one of the year’s] most dazzlingly smart, fully realized works of fiction.”—The Washington Post


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About David Gilbert

See more books from this Author
David Gilbert is the author of the story collection Remote Feed and the novel The Normals. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, GQ, and Bomb. He lives in New York with his wife and three children.
 
Published July 23, 2013 by Random House. 449 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for And Sons
All: 10 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Jul 28 2013

...“& Sons” can be long-winded and slow-footed. And its puzzlelike construction and untrustworthy narrator act as distancing mechanisms...

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Blake Bailey on Jul 26 2013

Perhaps the worst that can be said about “& Sons” is that it’s too ambitious by half. Embedded within its almost 450 pages is a poignant tour de force...

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by James Lasdun on Jan 18 2014

You don't have to be terribly interested in questions of narrative reliability to enjoy this aspect of the book. It is handled with such a graceful touch, and is such] an intrinsic part of the actual story (rather than just some metafictional flourish), that the reader simply accepts it...

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Alex Preston on Jan 16 2014

The style in which Topping narrates the novel is the chief pleasure of & Sons. It is not an easy read – the long sentences are often things of great beauty, but require mental gymnastics to bring them to life.

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Apr 29 2013

Gilbert is at his best when capturing the fearless, testosterone-driven essence of adolescence...

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Mary Pols on Jul 23 2013

When someone uses the term "instant classic," I typically want to grab him and ask, "So this is, what, like the new Great Expectations?...& Sons, seductive and ripe with both comedy and heartbreak, made me reconsider my stance on such a label.

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by Erica Wagner on Jan 03 2014

& Sons is a sophisticated, compassionate novel, very much more than a clever take on the vicissitudes of the writing life. Funny and smart, it is lit with the kind of writing that makes the reader break into a smile...

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from Financial Times

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Mark Athitakis on Jul 20 2013

“& Sons” takes a hard look at such fleeting reputations, but it’s built to last in its own way. Decades hence, when we want to know how much we missed romantic notions of artistic greatness, we can start with this book.

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from Star Tribune

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Hector Tobar on Jul 18 2013

Gilbert has great narrative gifts and a wonderful eye for the madness of families and the madness of writers. In the end, "& Sons" is a novel that creates an imaginary author who is so real and flawed that the reader feels he understands American literature itself a little better after reading his story.

Read Full Review of And Sons: A Novel | See more reviews from LA Times

The Maine Edge

Excellent
Reviewed by Allen Adams on Jul 24 2013

["& Sons"] is both sweeping and subtle, a grand epic and intimate family portrait all rolled into one. Gilbert offers a look at the consequences of greatness and the toll it can take both on one’s family and one’s self.

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