Leopold Portman, a young IT manager a few years out of college, dreams of settling down in Philly's bucolic suburbs and starting a family with his fiancee, Nora. Read more...
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Leopold Portman, a young IT manager a few years out of college, dreams of settling down in Philly's bucolic suburbs and starting a family with his fiancee, Nora. A talented singer in mourning for her mother, Nora has abandoned a promising opera career and wonders what her destiny holds. Her best friend, Stephen, Leopold's brother, dithers in his seventh year of graduate school and privately questions Leo and Nora's relationship. On June 16, 2004, the three are brought together--first for a funeral, then for an annual Bloomsday party. As the long-simmering tensions between them come to a head, they are forced to confront the choices of their pasts and their hopes for the future.
Clever, lyrical, and often hilarious, "The Sixteenth of June" is a feat of storytelling and a sharp depiction of modern American family life. It delves into the tensions and allegiances of friendships, the murky uncertainty of early adulthood, and the yearning to belong. This" "remarkable novel offers a nod to James Joyce's celebrated classic, "Ulysses," and it is about the secrets we keep and the lengths we'll go to for acceptance and love.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-04-28
- Reviewer: Staff
June 16 is, of course, Bloomsday—the day on which Joyce’s Ulysses takes place. Brothers Stephen and Leopold were named for the book’s two protagonists by their parents, the Portmans, a well-to-do Philadelphia couple who are lifelong Joyce fans. Naturally, the Portmans celebrate Bloomsday every year, and the sudden death of the husband’s mother on June 16, 2004, won’t be allowed to spoil the festivities. As adults, the brothers are polar opposites: Leo is hearty and unintellectual, while Stephen is a cerebral grad student unable, or unwilling, to complete his dissertation. Stephen is best friends with Leo’s fiancée, Nora, a lapsed opera singer grieving for her mother. Over the course of the day, each character confronts issues in his or her life. Leo wishes Nora would cheer up and marry him, Nora is worried about their relationship, and Stephen resents his family for not mourning his grandmother’s death deeply enough. And then, at the end, things somehow work out. Is it the magic of Joyce? Hard to say, but while Lang’s love for the author is evident, it’s not clear why the patron saint of difficult literature has been so elaborately invoked for this straightforward, mild-mannered tale of love and family. Agent: Miriam Altshuler, Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency. (June)