The Burgess Boys
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
"What truly makes Strout exceptional . . . is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling."--Chicago Tribune
"Strout's prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity."--The New Yorker
"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
"A portrait of an American community in turmoil that's as ambitious as Philip Roth's American Pastoral but more intimate in tone."--Time
" Strout's] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again. . . . At times The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and . . . startling riffs of gripping emotion."--Associated Press
" Strout] is at her masterful best when conjuring the two Burgess boys. . . . Scenes between them ring so true."--San Francisco Chronicle
"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 prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity.' The New Yorker on The Burgess Boys 'As perfect a novel as you will ever read ... So astonishingly good that I shall be reading it once a year for the foreseeable future and very probably for the rest of my life' Evening Standard on Olive Kitteridge 'Strout animates the ordinary with astonishing force' The New Yorker on Olive Kitteridge 'Masterfully wrought' Vanity Fair on Olive Kitteridge 'Strout has a wonderful ability to turn a phrase...[these] pages hold what life puts in: experience, joy, grief, and the sometimes-painful journey to love' Observer on Olive Kitteridge 'I am deeply impressed. Writing of this quality comes from a commitment to listening, from a perfect attunement to the human condition, from an attention to reality so exact that it goes beyond a skill and becomes a virtue. I have never read her before and I knew within a few sentences that here was an artist to value and respect' -- Hillary Mantel on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Strout's best novel yet' -- Ann Pachett on My Name is Lucy Barton 'An exquisite novel... in its careful words and vibrating silences, My Name Is Lucy Barton offers us a rare wealth of emotion, from darkest suffering to - 'I was so happy. Oh, I was happy' - simple joy' Claire Messud, New York Times Book Review on My Name is Lucy Barton 'So good I got goosebumps... a masterly novel of family ties by one of America's finest writers' Sunday Times on My Name is Lucy Barton 'My Name is Lucy Barton confirms Strout as a powerful storyteller immersed in the nuances of human relationships... Deeply affecting novel...visceral and heartbreaking...If she hadn't already won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge this new novel would surely be a contender' Observer on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Hypnotic...yielding a glut of profoundly human truths to do with flight, memory and longing' Mail on Sunday on My Name is Lucy Barton 'This is a book you'll want to return to again and again and again' Irish Independent on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Slim and spectacular...My Name Is Lucy Barton is smart and cagey in every way. It is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom. It starts with the clean, solid structure and narrative distance of a fairy tale yet becomes more intimate and improvisational, coming close at times to the rawness of autofiction by writers such as Karl Ove Knausgaard and Rachel Cusk. Strout is playing with form here, with ways to get at a story, yet nothing is tentative or haphazard. She is in supreme and magnificent command of this novel at all times...' Washington Post on My Name is Lucy Barton 'My Name Is Lucy Barton is a short novel about love, particularly the complicated love between mothers and daughters... It evokes these connections in a style so spare, so pure and so profound the book almost seems to be a kind of scripture or sutra, if a very down-to-earth and unpretentious one' Newsday on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Her concise writing is a masterclass in deceptive simplicity...Strout writes with an exacting rhythm, with each word and clause perfectly placed and weighted and each sentence as clear and bracing as grapefruit. It's a small masterpiece' Daily Mail on My Name is Lucy Barton 'This short, simple, quiet novel wriggles its way right into your heart and stays there' Red on My Name is Lucy Barton 'A beautifully taut novel' Guardian on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Agleam with extraordinary psychological insights...delicate, tender but ruthless reveries' Sunday Express on My Name is Lucy Barton 'An eerie, compelling novel, its deceptively simple language is a 'slight rush of words' which hold much more than they seem capable of containing...This novel is about the need to create a story we can live with when the real story cannot be told...' Financial Times on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Strout uses a different voice herself in this novel: a spare simple one, elegiac in tone that sometimes brings to mind Joan Didion's' The Tablet on My Name is Lucy Barton 'An exquisitely written story...a brutally honest, absorbing and emotive read' Catholic Universe on My Name is Lucy Barton 'This is a glorious novel, deft, tender and true. Read it' Sunday Telegraph on My Name is Lucy Barton 'Honest, intimate and ultimately unforgettable' Stylist on My Name is Lucy Barton 'One of those rare, invigorating books that take an apparently familiar world and peer into it with ruthless intimacy, revealing a strange and startling place.' The New York Times Book Review on Amy & Isabelle 'A novel of shining integrity and humour' -- Alice Munro on Amy and Isabelle
Elizabeth Strout's tenure as a lawyer (six months) was slightly longer than her career as a stand-up comedian (one night). She has also worked as a bartender, waitress and piano player at bars across the USA. She now teaches literature in New York, where she lives with her husband and daughter.