This free sampler features extended excerpts from six novels coming in 2012 from Simon & Schuster. The books and authors presented in this sampler include In One Person, the first new novel in three years from John Irving, Carry the One by Carol Anshaw, Gold by Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer, and The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos. In addition to these exclusive previews, the sample includes interviews with the ...
This free sampler features extended excerpts from six novels coming in 2012 from Simon & Schuster. The books and authors presented in this sampler include In One Person, the first new novel in three years from John Irving, Carry the One by Carol Anshaw, Gold by Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee, In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner, The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer, and The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos. In addition to these exclusive previews, the sample includes interviews with the writers and commentary from the books’ editors.
The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving’s fourth novel and his first international bestseller. Irving’s novels are now translated into thirty-five languages, and he has had nine international bestsellers. In One Person is John Irving’s thirteenth novel.
Carol Anshaw is the author of Carry the One, Aquamarine, Seven Moves, and Lucky in the Corner. She has received the Ferro-Grumley Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Arts Award for Fiction, and a National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. She lives in Chicago.
Chris Cleave is the author of Incendiary and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Visit him at ChrisCleave.com or on Twitter @ChrisCleave.
Vaddey Ratner was five years old when the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. Having endured four years under the brutal regime, she arrived in the United States in 1981 as a refugee not knowing English and eventually went on to graduate summa cum laude from Cornell University, where she specialized in Southeast Asian history and literature. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.
Enid Shomer won the Iowa Fiction Prize for her first collection of stories and the Florida Gold Medal for her second. She is also the author of four books of poetry. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, and many other publications. She lives in Tampa, Florida.
Natalie Bakopoulos holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan, where she now teaches. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Ninth Letter, Granta.com, Salon.com, The New York Times, and The New York Times Book Review, and has received an O. Henry Award, a Hopwood Award, and the Platsis Prize for Work in the Greek Legacy. She is a contributing editor for the online journal Fiction Writers Review. The Green Shore is her first novel.
It was as a struggling, withdrawn student at Phillips Exeter, the New Hampshire prep school where his stepfather taught Russian history, that John Irving discovered the two great loves of his life: writing and wrestling. Modestly, he attributes his success in both endeavors to dogged perseverance. "My life in wrestling was one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline," he confessed in his 1996 mini-memoir The Imaginary Girlfriend. "I believe that my life as a writer consists of one-eighth talent and seven-eighths discipline, too."
Certainly, patience and stamina have served Irving well -- in both wrestling (he competed until he was 34, coached well into his 40s, and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1992) and writing. His first book, Setting Free the Bears, was published in 1968 to respectable reviews but sold poorly. Over the course of the next ten years, he wrote two more unsuccessful novels (The Water-Method Man and The 158-Pound Marriage).
Then, in 1978, Irving hit the jackpot with The World According to Garp, a freewheeling comic saga incorporating motifs he would revisit many times over -- feminism, adultery, violence, grotesquerie, and an overriding sense of impending doom. Garp received a National Book Award nomination and became an instant cult classic. It also paved the way for a string of bestsellers, including The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and The Fourth Hand, to name a few.
While none of his novels are strictly autobiographical, Irving has never denied that certain elements from his life have seeped into his books, most notably the pervading "presence" of his biological father, John Wallace Blunt, a man Irving never knew. Raised by his mother and a stepfather he loved dearly, Irving had denied for years any curiosity about his absent parent, but the figure of the missing father haunted his writing like a specter. In 2005, he laid the ghost to rest with the publication of Until I Find You, a searing story that took shape slowly and painfully over the better part of a decade. Writing the novel also allowed the author to wrestle with a closely guarded secret from his past -- just like the novel's protagonist Jack Burns, Irving was sexually abused as a preteen by an older woman. In an eerily timed coincidence, while he was crafting the novel, Irving was contacted by a man named Chris Blunt, who identified himself as the son of Irving's biological father. Twenty years younger than Irving, his half-brother told Irving that their father had died in 1995. Although Irving was devastated by the experience, he now feels as if he is able to turn the page and move on.
In addition to his novels, Irving has also written a collection of short stories and essays (1995's Trying to Save Piggy Sneed) and several screenplays, including his Oscar-winning adaptation of The Cider House Rules. He chronicled the experience of bringing his novel to the screen in the 1999 memoir My Movie Business.
Good To Know
Irving struggled in school with a learning disability that was probably undiagnosed dyslexia. Today, he considers it something of a blessing. Forced to read slowly, he savored each word and literally fell in love with language and literature.
In a 2001 interview with the now-defunct Book magazine, Irving confessed, "The characters in my novels, from the very first one, are always on some quixotic effort of attempting to control something that is uncontrollable -- some element of the world that is essentially random and out of control."
Although the results have been mixed at best, film versions have been made of several Irving novels, including The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, and The Cider House Rules, which won for Irving a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. In addition, the movie Simon Birch was loosely based on A Prayer for Owen Meaney, and the first third of Irving's novel A Widow for One Year became the acclaimed film The Door in the Floor.
One of Irving's great literary influences was Kurt Vonnegut, his teacher and mentor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. The two writers remained close friends until Vonnegut's death in 2007.
Irving has two tattoos: a maple leaf (in honor of his Canadian wife) on his left shoulder, and the starting circle of a wrestling match on his right forearm.
The influence of Charles Dickens is evident in Irving's novels, sprawling epics with huge casts of colorful, eccentric characters and lots of complex plot points that crop up, disappear for hundreds of pages, then resurface unexpectedly. He writes voluminously and in great detail; he refuses to use a computer; and he begins at the end, writing the last sentence of each novel first. He describes himself as a craftsman and claims that he owes his success more to rewrites, ruthless editing, and infinite patience than to artistic genius.