By Ethan Canin
(Random House, Hardcover, 9780679456803, 480pp.)
Publication Date: June 24, 2008
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In the early 1970s, Corey Sifter, the son of working-class parents, becomes a yard boy on the grand estate of the powerful Metarey family. Soon, through the family’s generosity, he is a student at a private boarding school and an aide to the great New York senator Henry Bonwiller, who is running for president. Before long, Corey finds himself involved with one of the Metarey daughters as well, and he begins to leave behind the world of his upbringing. As the Bonwiller campaign gains momentum, Corey finds himself caught up in a complex web of events in which loyalty, politics, sex, and gratitude conflict with morality, love, and the truth. Ethan Canin’s stunning novel is about America as it was and is, a remarkable exploration of how vanity, greatness, and tragedy combine to change history and fate.
Ethan Canin is the author of six books, including the story collections Emperor of the Air and The Palace Thief and the novels For Kings and Planets and Carry Me Across the Water. He is on the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and divides his time between Iowa and northern Michigan. He is also a physician.
- This novel makes many assertions about the American political landscape in the early 1970s. What are some of those assertions? In what ways have American politics changed since then? And how does Henry Bonwiller compare to today’s politicians, in terms of his political demeanor and beliefs as well as in his sense of both personal and public morality?
“A story in which the audacity of hope confronts the tenacity of power . . . We’ve waited a long time for a worthy successor to Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men and it couldn’t have arrived at a more auspicious moment.” —Washington Post Book World
“[A] many-layered epic of class, politics, sex, death, and social history . . . Its reach is wide and its touch often masterly.”—John Updike, The New Yorker
“An intoxicating big book–in both size and ambition. Thrilling . . . luminous.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A sprawling, captivating, timely work of art . . . Beautifully written, thoughtful, and imbuing all of its principal characters with dignity and understanding, America America is uncommon, ambitious and, like many of its characters, larger than life. . . . A novel that reminds us that fiction matters.”—Houston Chronicle
“Powerful and haunting, a major work.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A brilliant, serious book for serious readers.” —San Diego Union-Tribune
“Riveting and thought-provoking . . . [Canin] has unleashed all his considerable skills here, and it’s our reward that America America turns out to be his best and most affecting work.”—Miami Herald
“The most mature and accomplished novelist of his generation.”—National Public Radio