Necessary Errors by Caleb Crain
A Novel

70%

5 Critic Reviews

...it’s Jacob’s ongoing redefining of “exile” and his discovery of self in an unfamiliar community that provide meaning and richness.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

ONE OF THE YEAR'S BEST BOOKS
The Wall Street Journal • Slate • Kansas City Star • Flavorwire • Policy Mic • Buzzfeed

Necessary Errors is a very good novel, an enviably good one, and to read it is to relive all the anxieties and illusions and grand projects of one’s own youth.”—James Wood, The New Yorker

An exquisite debut novel that brilliantly captures the lives and romances of young expatriates in newly democratic Prague

It’s October 1990. Jacob Putnam is young and full of ideas. He’s arrived a year too late to witness Czechoslovakia’s revolution, but he still hopes to find its spirit, somehow. He discovers a country at a crossroads between communism and capitalism, and a picturesque city overflowing with a vibrant, searching sense of possibility. As the men and women Jacob meets begin to fall in love with one another, no one turns out to be quite the same as the idea Jacob has of them—including Jacob himself.

Necessary Errors is the long-awaited first novel from literary critic and journalist Caleb Crain. Shimmering and expansive, Crain’s prose richly captures the turbulent feelings and discoveries of youth as it stretches toward adulthood—the chance encounters that grow into lasting, unforgettable experiences and the surprises of our first ventures into a foreign world—and the treasure of living in Prague during an era of historic change.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Caleb Crain

See more books from this Author
Caleb Crain is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker,the New York Review of Books,the Nation,the New York Times Magazine,the London Review of Books, n+1, the Paris Review Daily, and the New York Times Book Review. A graduate of Harvard and Columbia, he is the author of the critical work American Sympathy. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
Published August 6, 2013 by Penguin Books. 481 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Necessary Errors
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by David Haglund on Aug 11 2013

The story is centuries old now; before Prague there was Rome, Paris, Madrid, Morocco (but mostly Rome and Paris). And Mr. Crain does not update the story...He merely writes his characters and settings so well, with such precise attention to physical and psychological detail, that the reader feels introduced to a small world of people and places.

Read Full Review of Necessary Errors: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Aaron Hamburger on Aug 09 2013

Despite these caveats, “Necessary Errors” is often quite appealing thanks to Crain’s lovely, sure-handed prose. Line by line, the book is chock-full of masterly word choices and images, like the “large purple flower of gas” in a white metal water heater...On almost every page, the reader is rewarded with gems like these.

Read Full Review of Necessary Errors: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Good
on May 06 2013

...it’s Jacob’s ongoing redefining of “exile” and his discovery of self in an unfamiliar community that provide meaning and richness.

Read Full Review of Necessary Errors: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by MATT WELCH on Sep 03 2013

Somewhere deep in the book—for me, it was page 302—the reader will realize that nothing much is ever going happen...This may be a realistic enough depiction of expat angst, but whether it makes for a compelling narrative will probably depend on your tolerance for eavesdropping on other people's writing groups...

Read Full Review of Necessary Errors: A Novel | See more reviews from WSJ online

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Sep 13 2013

Much of the novel’s copious, rich humour is to be found in Crain’ finely tuned ear for dialect. Jacob teaching English to a group of research chemists in wingback chairs is one of many highlights.

Read Full Review of Necessary Errors: A Novel | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for Necessary Errors
63%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 66 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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