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ProductsMore About Manhattan Beach by Jennifer EganOverviewLONGLISTED for the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. "Immensely satisfying...an old-fashioned page-turner, tweaked by this witty and sophisticated writer...Egan is masterly at displaying mastery...she works a formidable kind of magic." --Dwight Garner, The New York Times "Dares to satisfy us in a way that stories of an earlier age used to." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post "Egan's prose is transparent and elegant...But the chief joy of reading Manhattan Beach lies in diving under the surface pleasures of the plot (which are plentiful--it's immersive and compelling), and sinking slowly to its dark and unknowable depths. There are deep truths there." --Vox "Excellent...Manhattan Beach is a fleet, sinuous epic, abounding with evocative details and felicitous metaphors... it] magnificently captures the country on the brink of triumph and triumphalism." --Bookforum "Egan's first foray into historical fiction makes you forget you're reading historical fiction at all." --Elle Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished. With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan's first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.
From our buyer, Margaret Terwey: The author of A Visit from the Goon Squad gives us a feminist hero you won't forget in this magnificent historical novel set during the depression and WWII.
Where the water takes her
BookPage Top Pick in Fiction, October 2017
In the wake of her dazzling Pulitzer Prize winner, A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan’s deftly plotted new novel, Manhattan Beach, is a surprise. Where A Visit is a stylistically adventurous exploration of the American punk rock music scene that adopts a form of storytelling somewhere between a novel and a collection of short stories, Manhattan Beach is a big, twisty, traditional novel set during the Depression and World War II.
As the novel opens, 11-year-old Anna Kerrigan accompanies her father, Eddie, a Brooklyn dockworker and small-time bagman, on a mysterious visit to Dexter Styles’ Manhattan Beach mansion. Styles has one foot in the legitimate business world and the other in the underworld. Until her father’s visit with Styles, Anna has been his constant companion; after the visit, her father becomes more distant and more a denizen of late nights in faraway places. After several years, Eddie simply disappears. One strand of the remainder of the novel concerns Anna’s poignant efforts to discover the fate of her father, which eventually brings her deeper into the orbit of the elusive Styles.
At the same time, Anna becomes the sole supporter for her mother and her disabled sister. She finds wartime work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There she becomes fascinated by the deep-sea divers who work underwater to repair war ships, a profession closed to women. But because this is wartime and there is a shortage of men, Anna manages through sheer determination and grit to take on this treacherous work and to develop a skill that will later help in her search for her father.
Egan writes with great skill and illustrative power. Particularly beautiful are her descriptions of the sea and its mesmerizing effects on her characters. In her afterword, Egan describes the vast amount of research she did on the World War II-era Brooklyn Navy Yard, and it shows. Her portrayals of life in the yard and the perils and mechanics of the work of divers are marvels to behold.