Lost in the City (20th Anniversary Edition)

( 6 )

Overview

The nation's capital that serves as the setting for the stories in Edward P. Jones's prizewinning collection, Lost in the City, lies far from the city of historic monuments and national politicians. Jones takes the reader beyond that world into the complicated lives of African American men, women, and even children, such as the girl set to begin elementary school in "The First Day," who work against the constant threat of loss to maintain a sense of hope. From "The Girl Who Raised Pigeons" to the well-to-do ...

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Lost in the City

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Overview

The nation's capital that serves as the setting for the stories in Edward P. Jones's prizewinning collection, Lost in the City, lies far from the city of historic monuments and national politicians. Jones takes the reader beyond that world into the complicated lives of African American men, women, and even children, such as the girl set to begin elementary school in "The First Day," who work against the constant threat of loss to maintain a sense of hope. From "The Girl Who Raised Pigeons" to the well-to-do career woman awakened in the night by a phone call that will take her on a journey back to the past, the characters in these stories forge bonds of community as they struggle against the limits of their city to stave off the loss of family, friends, memories, and, ultimately, themselves.

Critically acclaimed upon publication, Lost in the City introduced Jones as an undeniable talent, a writer whose unaffected style is not only evocative and forceful but also filled with insight and poignancy.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
“A powerful fiction debut.”
USA Today
“[A] powerful…generous…collection.”
Washington Times
“Poignant. . . . Gripping. . . . [Jones] has a careful ear for dialogue.”
Terry McMillan
“Edward P. Jones has a commanding voice. His collection of stories is arresting.”
Jonathan Yardley
“Original and arresting. . . . [Jones’s] stories will touch chords of empathy and recognition in all readers.”
New York Times
"A powerful fiction debut."
USA Today
"[A] powerful…generous…collection."
Washington Times
"Poignant. . . . Gripping. . . . [Jones] has a careful ear for dialogue."
Terry McMillan
"Edward P. Jones has a commanding voice. His collection of stories is arresting."
Jonathan Yardley
"Original and arresting. . . . [Jones’s] stories will touch chords of empathy and recognition in all readers."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062193216
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/16/2012
  • Edition description: Anniversar
  • Edition number: 20
  • Pages: 268
  • Sales rank: 328,913
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward P. Jones

Edward P. Jones, the New York Times bestselling author, has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, for fiction, the National Book Critics Circle award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for The Known World; he also received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004. His first collection of stories, Lost in the City, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was short listed for the National Book Award. His second collection, All Aunt Hagar’s Children, was a finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award. He has been an instructor of fiction writing at a range of universities, including Princeton. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Biography

Edward P. Jones grew up in Washington, D.C., where his mother worked as a dishwasher and hotel maid to support Jones and his brother and sister. Though she couldn't read or write herself, Jones's mother encouraged her son to study, and eventually a Jesuit priest who knew Jones suggested he apply for a scholarship at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. There, Jones discovered the odd fact that in the antebellum South, there had been free black people who owned black slaves.

"It was a shock that there were black people who would take part in a system like that," he later told a Boston Globe interviewer. "Why didn't they know better?" That question stayed with Jones for more than 20 years and would eventually inspire his first novel, The Known World.

After graduating from Holy Cross with a degree in English, Jones moved back to Washington, D.C., and began writing short stories, aiming to create a portrait of his city in the mode of James Joyce's Dubliners. He attended writing seminars, then earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia, but he felt that neither writing nor teaching was a reliable enough source of income. He took a day job as a business writer for an Arlington, Virgina, nonprofit, and held it for almost 19 years -- during which he published his first short-story collection, Lost in the City, which was nominated for a National Book Award. He also began planning his first novel, composing and revising chapters entirely in his head. Jones had just taken a five-week vacation to start writing the book when he found out he was being laid off, so he lived on severance pay and unemployment during the few months it took him to finish his first draft.

The Known World was published in 2003, 11 years after Lost in the City. "With hard-won wisdom and hugely effective understatement, Mr. Jones explores the unsettling, contradiction-prone world of a Virginia slaveholder who happens to be black," wrote Janet Maslin in The New York Times Book Review. Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post Book World called the book "the best new work of American fiction to cross my desk in years."

Though some reviewers have praised the author's impressive research, Jones insists he made almost everything up. During the 10 years he spent thinking about his novel, he accumulated shelves full of books about slavery, but ultimately he read none of them, choosing instead to write the book that had already taken shape in his mind. The depth and detail of Jones's fictional Manchester County has been compared with William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County; Martha Woodroof of National Public Radio also noted similarities to Dickens, in that Jones spins "a densely populated, sprawling story built around a morally bankrupt institution."

Despite all the attention he's earned, Jones seems unwilling to assume the role of celebrity writer. "If you write a story today, and you get up tomorrow and start another story, all the expertise that you put into the first story doesn't transfer over automatically to the second story," he explained in an online chat on Washingtonpost.com . "You're always starting at the bottom of the mountain. So you're always becoming a writer. You're never really arriving."

Good To Know

Unable to find a full-time job after college, Jones was on the verge of borrowing $15 from his sister for a bus ticket to Brooklyn, where she lived, when he got word that Essence magazine was publishing his first story for $400. A job at the American Association for the Advancement of Science enabled him to stay in Washington, D.C., where he continued writing the stories for his collection Lost in the City.

Jones has never owned a car, commuting instead by public transportation. "I don't want to own something that you can't take into your apartment at night," he explained in an interview with The Washington Post.

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    1. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 5, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., College of the Holy Cross, 1972; M.F.A., University of Virginia, 1981

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 3, 2011

    Not For Me

    Quite honestly, I'm not really one to enjoy compilations of short stories-I tend to avoid them in the classroom and I rarely read them for fun because I don't care for them. Needless to say, I really didn't care for this book. The short stories weren't interesting to me, and I personally found a majority of them inappropriate. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I don't think that every story needs references to sex or cussing to validate it, and I find myself becoming uncomfortable when I read stories like these.

    These stories were frustrating for me in that many of them just seem to end with no conclusion. They read in the same fashion as Flannery O'Conner, and as I wasn't a fan of her writing either, it makes sense that these short stories also wouldn't be for me. I do understand the premise for these short stories as Jones is writing what he knows, but I personally need something much more upbeat. One star.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Voice of Every City but Definitely DC

    This is an awesome read of short stories about living in a city; specifically DC but anyone who grew up or lives in a city can relate to the landscape, the rich and interesting characters and the struggles of life. I would totally recommend this read coupled with All Aunt Hagar's Children; yes, they are connected.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews

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