By Emily Barton
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374116903, 496pp.)
Publication Date: February 21, 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Since her girlhood, Prudence Winship has gazed across the tidal straits from her home in Brooklyn to the city of Manhattan and yearned to bridge the distance. Now, established as the owner of the enormously successful gin distillery she inherited from her father, she can begin to realize her dream.
Set in eighteenth-century Brooklyn, this is the story of a determined and intelligent woman who is consumed by a vision of a bridge: a gargantuan construction of timber and masonry she devises to cross the East River in a single, magnificent span. With the help of the local surveyor, Benjamin Horsfield, and her sisters—the high-spirited, obstreperous Tem, who works with her in the distillery, and the silent, uncanny Pearl—she fires the imaginations of the people of Brooklyn and New York by promising them a bridge that will meet their most pressing practical needs while being one of the most ambitious public works ever attempted. Prue’s own life and the life of the bridge become inextricably bound together as the costs of the bridge, both financial and human, rise beyond her direst expectations.
Brookland confirms Emily Barton’s reputation as one of the finest writers of her generation, whose work is ”blessedly post-ironic, engaging and heartfelt” (Thomas Pynchon).
Emily Barton earned her B.A. in English literature from Harvard University and an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short fiction has appeared in Story and American Short Fiction, and her first novel, The Testament of Yves Gundron (FSG 2000)—which won the Bard Fiction Prize and a Michener-Copernicus Fellowship—was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Month, and was nominated for Britain’s Guardian Fiction Prize. She has taught writing and humanities at Bard College, and will be a writer-in-residence at the New School in 2005-06. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Kirkus Reviews“Industriously researched . . . No historical novel in recent memory has amassed such an imposing wealth of rich period detail, and few novels of any genre extend an increasingly absorbing story to such a powerful, sorrowful conclusion. A brilliant book that should be a strong Pulitzer Prize contender.” Library Journal“[A] magnificent epic. . .Barton’s second novel is a breathtaking, heartbreaking mix of gender-busting innovation and the story of decent people living enormous lives in a close family whose secrets lead to explosive tragedy. Highly recommended.” “Emily Barton is a literary inventor on the order of Thomas Pynchon or John Barth. In BROOKLAND, she has made a time machine for us to travel back to Brooklyn in the eighteenth century, where we accompany Prudence Winship on a remarkable apprenticeship and a still more extraordinary career. We'll meet everyone worth knowing, and learn everything worth learning, not only about gin, and bridge-building, but about sisters and fathers and husbands and the power of the imagination to shape the world. Barton's story is patient, tender, encyclopedic and completely absorbing.” —Paul LaFarge, author of Haussmann, or the Distinction “Brookland is a marvelously beguiling novel. From first elegant page to last, Emily Barton has rendered an enticing story, one both moving and entertaining at every level. It’s a dazzling and thrilling read, truly an exemplar of modern literature.”—Katharine Weber, author of The Little Women “Ms. Barton is a copiously talented, daring writer.” —Adam Begley, The New York Observer