Next Life Might Be Kinder (Hardcover)

By Howard Norman

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780547712123, 272pp.

Publication Date: May 13, 2014

List Price: 26.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

June 2014 Indie Next List

“Norman's new novel has the elements that make all of his previous novels so superb: the elegant writing, an omnipresent sense of place, an exploration of love, and the tension of a quiet center punctuated by bursts of violence. The story of Sam Lattimore in the aftermath of his beloved wife's murder is erotically charged, mysterious, and haunting. You shouldn't miss it.”
— Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA
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“After my wife, Elizabeth Church, was murdered by the bellman Alfonse Padgett in the Essex Hotel, she did not leave me.”

Sam Lattimore meets Elizabeth Church in 1970s Halifax, in an art gallery. The sparks are immediate, leading quickly to a marriage that is dear, erotically charged, and brief.  In Howard Norman’s spellbinding and moving novel, the gleam of the marriage and the circumstances of Elizabeth’s murder are revealed in heart-stopping increments. Sam’s life afterward is complicated. For one thing, in a moment of desperate confusion, he sells his life story to a Norwegian filmmaker named Istvakson, known for the stylized violence of his films, whose artistic drive sets in motion an increasingly intense cat-and-mouse game between the two men. For another, Sam has begun “seeing” Elizabeth—not only seeing but holding conversations with her, almost every evening, and watching her line up books on a small beach. What at first seems simply hallucination born of terrible grief reveals itself, evening by evening, as something else entirely.

Next Life Might Be Kinder is a story of murder, desperate faith, the afterlife, and of love as absolute redemption—from one of our most compelling storytellers at the height of his talents.

About the Author

HOWARD NORMAN is a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a winner of the Lannan Award for fiction.  His novels The Northern Lights and The Bird Artist were both nominated for a National Book Award. He is also author of the novels The Museum Guard, The Haunting of L, and What Is Left the Daughter.

Praise For Next Life Might Be Kinder

"an opening sentence worthy of the Noir Hall of Fame...provocative...haunting...deft"—Janet Maslin, New York Times

"Engrossing...Norman pulls off a fascinating balancing act here: the literary page-turner that, when it’s done, you want to retrace"—The Seattle Times

"compelling and satisfying. Howard Norman has written a complex literary novel and a page-turner that’s impossible to put down."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"quirky and"—Washington Post

"This latest novel, a strange and tragic love story told with great power and beauty, is a remarkable achievement… Shining through the confusion and madness is Norman’s masterly depiction of Sam and Elizabeth’s love affair before the murder, showing two people living modest, quiet lives who are redeemed and blessed by having found real love. VERDICT An inspiring and beautiful book; enthusiastically recommended for fans of literary fiction." —Library Journal, STARRED review

"Once again Norman (What Is Left the Daughter, 2010) portrays Nova Scotia as a mystical realm, where the dead haunt the living, and time is tidal. The inspiration for this dark, sexy, allusive, and diabolical tale is found in Norman’s memoir, I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place (2013), further complicating the novel’s eerie investigation into the yin and yang of verisimilitude and aberration."—Booklist, STARRED review

"Sweet,'ll be richly rewarded."—Washingtonian

"a beguiling tale"—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] somewhat far-fetched but nonetheless entertaining novel"— Publishers Weekly

"A nimbus of unknowability lights up this exploration of love, and how we live in the ambiguous context of love, always moving backward and forward, as we do dancing the Lindy.  Howard Norman has created a very real mystery, in writing a mystery about what we choose to look at as 'very real.'  It’s vivid, haunting, and – as always, with this writer – beautifully and carefully written and unique, it’s meaning both elegant and elusive. I greatly admire Howard Norman’s writing." —Ann Beattie