The Fourth Hand by John Irving

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 8 Critic Reviews



The Fourth Hand asks an interesting question: “How can anyone identify a dream of the future?” The answer: “Destiny is not imaginable, except in dreams or to those in love.”

While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation’s first hand transplant; meanwhile, in the distracting aftermath of an acrimonious divorce, the surgeon is seduced by his housekeeper. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband’s left hand– that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy.

This is how John Irving’s tenth novel begins; it seems, at first, to be a comedy, perhaps a satire, almost certainly a sexual farce. Yet, in the end, The Fourth Hand is as realistic and emotionally moving as any of Mr. Irving’s previous novels – including The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and A Widow for One Year – or his Oscar-winning screenplay of The Cider House Rules.

The Fourth Hand is characteristic of John Irving’s seamless storytelling and further explores some of the author’s recurring themes – loss, grief, love as redemption. But this novel also breaks new ground; it offers a penetrating look at the power of second chances and the will to

From the Hardcover edition.

About John Irving

See more books from this Author
John Irving published his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, in 1968. He has been nominated for a National Book Award three times-winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. He also received an O. Henry Award, in 1981, for the short story "Interior Space." In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules-a film with seven Academy Award nominations. In 2001, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Last Night in Twisted River is John Irving's twelfth novel.
Published July 9, 2010 by Ballantine Books. 352 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Arts & Photography. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Fourth Hand

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Eminent Boston hand surgeon Nicholas Zajac (the former lacrosse player, whose own problems with women are threaded intermittently throughout the narrative) attaches Otto’s mitt, whose imperfect functioning is prelude to the experiences of fatherhood and real love (as opposed to lots and lots of g...

| Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

The Fourth Hand John Irving 416pp, Bloomsbury, £16.99 Some years ago, I was living in Italy near Gore Vidal, working on a novel in which two characters discussed the existential theology of Kierkegaard over a passage of 20 or so pages.

Jul 07 2001 | Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

The Fourth Hand John Irving Bloomsbury £16.99, pp416 The most disarming part of Patrick Wallingford's first meeting with the love of his life is the order in which she removes her clothes.

Jul 08 2001 | Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

As the world watches, handsome TV journalist Patrick Wallingford, who is obsessed with minutely described one-night stands, has his hand eaten by a lion at the Gnesh Circus.

| Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

Book Reporter

As is his wont, John Irving borrows bits and pieces from his previous novels for his latest book, THE FOURTH HAND.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

AV Club

See more reviews from this publication

The fact that Irving is already at work on his Hand screenplay for Cider House adaptation director Lasse Hallström may explain the author's newfound rush to get to press with a work that feels half-finished.

Apr 19 2002 | Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

Entertainment Weekly

Given the power and grace of such previous Irving works as ''The World According to Garp'' and ''A Prayer for Owen Meany,'' this new book seems to defy the dictum ''Write in a way that comes naturally.'' And considering the disjointedness of the novel as a whole, there's no question that Irving h...

Jul 18 2001 | Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

The Zone

Sparkle Hayter is a brash Canadian gal, whose five 'Robin Hudson' mystery novels are great fun and highly recommended but have hardly rocked the publishing world, and John Irving is a well-established figure in contemporary American literature with a list of successful novels and their scre...

| Read Full Review of The Fourth Hand

Reader Rating for The Fourth Hand

An aggregated and normalized score based on 327 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review