The Virgins by Pamela Erens
A Novel

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...she manages a delicate bit of witchcraft such that, by halfway through the novel, our fingertips are humming on the page. And that is due to the way she summons so intensely the momentousness of adolescence, when everything feels big and important, and every moment feels like the one after which you will never be the same again.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The Virgins is the story of Aviva Rossner and Seung Jung's erotic awakening at Auburn Academy re-imagined in richly detailed episodes by their classmate Bruce, a once-embittered voyeur, now repentant narrator, whose envy spurs the novel's tragic end.* A New York Times Editor's Choice selection
* A Chicago Tribune Editor's Choice selection
* A Best Book of 2013, The New Yorker
* A Best Book of 2013, The New Republic
* A Critics' Choice selection for 2013, Salon
* A Best Indie Title of 2013, Library Journal
* One of Redbook's "Top Ten Beach Reads of 2013"
* One of O Magazine's "Ten Titles to Pick Up Now," August 2013
* Featured in The Millions's "Most-Anticipated" List 2013
* A "This Week's Hot Reads" selection, The Daily Beast
* A Vanity Fair Hot Type selection
* The Virgins was a finalist for the John Gardner Award
* Publishers Weekly named The Virgins one of the best boarding school books of all timeIt’s 1979, and Aviva Rossner and Seung Jung are notorious at Auburn Academy. They’re an unlikely pair at an elite East Coast boarding school (she’s Jewish; he’s Korean American) and hardly shy when it comes to their sexuality. Aviva is a formerly bookish girl looking for liberation from an unhappy childhood; Seung is an enthusiastic dabbler in drugs and a covert rebel against his demanding immigrant parents. In the minds of their titillated classmates—particularly that of Bruce Bennett-Jones—the couple lives in a realm of pure, indulgent pleasure. But, as is often the case, their fabled relationship is more complicated than it seems: despite their lust and urgency, their virginity remains intact, and as they struggle to understand each other, the relationship spirals into disaster.
The Virgins is the story of Aviva and Seung’s descent into confusion and shame, as re-imagined in richly detailed episodes by their classmate Bruce, a once-embittered voyeur turned repentant narrator. With unflinching honesty and breathtaking prose, Pamela Erens brings a fresh voice to the tradition of the great boarding school novel.

 

About Pamela Erens

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Pamela Erens was raised in Chicago and attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, where she concentrated on literary theory and women’s studies. For many years she worked as a magazine editor, including at Glamour. Her editing and freelance journalism have won national awards.Erens’s first novel, The Understory, published in 2007, was the winner of the Ironweed Press Fiction Prize and a finalist for both the 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Erens has also published short fiction, poetry, and essays in literary journals and magazines ranging from Chicago Review and New England Review to O: The Oprah Magazine. She is the recipient of two New Jersey State Council on the Arts fellowships in fiction and was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.
 
Published January 30, 2014 by John Murray. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Virgins
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by John Irving on Aug 09 2013

Speaking strictly as a novelist, I must say that he’s a villain and a narrator Erens should be proud of...Erens does a compelling job of making us hate him, but Bennett-Jones is the ideal narrator for this sexual tragedy. The lovers are the ones we care about, and Erens is no less compelling at making us love them.

Read Full Review of The Virgins: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Megan Abbott on Feb 08 2014

...she manages a delicate bit of witchcraft such that, by halfway through the novel, our fingertips are humming on the page. And that is due to the way she summons so intensely the momentousness of adolescence, when everything feels big and important, and every moment feels like the one after which you will never be the same again.

Read Full Review of The Virgins: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Aug 05 2013

Adroitly capturing the anguish of adolescent desire, Eren's latest is a lesson in love, loss, and tragedy.

Read Full Review of The Virgins: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Reader Rating for The Virgins
71%

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